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Ban on govt jobs aimed to stop pre-poll rigging, ECP tells SC

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) informed the Supreme Court on Tuesday that it imposed a ban on recruitment of public servants to stop pre-poll rigging.

A bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, was hearing a petition pertaining to restrictions on recruitment in all federal and provincial government departments and release of funds for uplift schemes across the country.

The ECP secretary said it is incumbent upon the electoral body to ensure fair and free elections under Article 218 of the Constitution. The ban on government jobs and release of funds ahead of 2018 general elections  is aimed to stop pre-poll rigging, he added.

He clarified that no ban has been imposed on recruitment through federal and provincial public service commissions.

The bench, however, transferred the case to the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to decide it within a week.

It directed the high court to hear the case on daily basis and ruled the ban will remain in force until a decision is given by the court.

A day earlier, the apex court directed the electoral body to come up with an explanation, spelling out the rationale behind the ban on recruitment of public servants.

During hearing, the chief justice asked the ECP secretary to explain under what law the ban has been slapped. In some important institutions, the process of recruitment of their heads is underway, he observed.

He asked if the Commission had powers to impose such ban, to which the secretary replied the Election Act 2017 empowered it to issue such orders.

Justice Nisar further questioned if the ban could be imposed before the dissolution of legislatures on completion of their five-year tenure and whether the order will have adverse effects on smooth working of the affairs of the government.

“This is good that jobs should not be given ahead of elections [for political gains], but there should also be a reason behind such curb,” he said adding that such point had not been explained ever before.

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