Judges and the Elections: Some Reflections, Observations and Suggestions from the Perspectives of a Civil Judge
Muhammad Amir Munir
Senior Instructor, Punjab Judicial Academy
Pakistan Law Journal, 2008
The experience of working as returning officer (RO), assistant returning officer (ARO), presiding officer (PO) and revising authority (RA) during past four important elections has made me to learn a lot about the role of the judge during general elections activity (for returning the candidates to parliament, provincial assemblies and local bodies), the common man, the political elite, the executive, the police and the elections. Many hard realities came to light while at the same time something over and above of traditional judicial duties provided experience towards a new sort of public dealing. Extensive tours to the electoral area and the polling stations provided a pleasant change in routine duties.
Although the involvement of judiciary in conduct of elections was meant to use its exalted position for a free, fair and impartial election activity, but the events that are beyond control of the judiciary during this activity brings bad name for the judiciary for no fault on part of the judiciary itself, e.g., lack of police control and vigilance during and after election hours, highly charged political environment, use of fire-arms by political rivalries, resultant harassment to the voters and weak candidates, non-cooperation of police with returning officers, no security for presiding officers during and after election hours until they deliver results to the returning officer, mismanagement of transport plan for presiding officers, etc., to name a few. Hence, it needs review of paradigm shift into the power and role of each functionary responsible for conduct of fair and impartial elections. Due to the election work, the judicial work generally and the litigants particularly suffer the most as all the judicial work is generally adjourned without formal hearings for almost two months for regular general elections preparations or local bodies’ elections. Anyhow, loss of judicial time for a ‘greater good’ (judiciary conducting elections!) can be deemed a fair trade-off between judicial and election duties if ‘greater good’ is really achieved; but what to say of vice versa.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 11
Keywords: General Elections, Judiciary, Returning Officers, Role of Judiciary, Presiding Officer, DRO, ARO, RO, Civil Judge, District and Sessions Judge
JEL Classification: N45, K40, K49, K10, K20Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: August 28, 2011
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