ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has observed that submission of an affidavit along with nomination papers is mandatory for candidates in upcoming general elections.

It was declared by a five-member larger bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar.

The bench heard a case pertaining to changes in nomination papers. It ordered Election Commission to prepare the specimen of the affidavit and present before the court.

The existing nomination papers will stay in place and the affidavit to be submitted by the candidates will carry the additional information, the bench observed.

Candidates will be bound to provide the information to Returning Officers within three days. Action will be taken in case of a fake declaration, the CJP observed.

“Why Ayaz Sadiq feels shame over providing information to public? The voters should know what kind of their leaders are,” said Justice Azmat Saeed, a member of the bench.

The Chief Justice reiterated that the general elections will not be delayed and will be held as per the schedule on July 25.

The Supreme Court was hearing applications by the Election Commission of Pakistan and outgoing National Assembly speaker Ayaz Sadiq against an order by the Lahore High Court.

The LHC had declared void the new nomination forms which did not contain important information about candidates i.e. education, occupation, business, dual nationality, NTN number, income tax returns, criminal record, assets and liabilities, election expenses and loans or dues.

The high court ordered ECP to revise the forms and include questions about the information.

The declarations were part of the 2013 nomination forms, but were later changed by the Parliament through Elections Act 2017.

The very next day, Supreme Court suspended Lahore High Court’s decision and upheld the fresh nomination papers.

Meanwhile, Ayaz Sadiq’s lawyer said that it’s a constitutional matter as unnecessary details were sought in the papers over which, CJP asked whether the form in 2013 was prepared under any law.

Mian Saqib Nisar ordered returning officers to provide all the information of the candidates to the commission.

Earlier, SC had suspended the Lahore High Court (LHC) verdict in case challenging the changes in nomination papers prepared by the parliament.

“Elections 2018 will be held on time. ECP will be held responsible if there is any delay in elections”, remarked Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Saqib Nisar.

LHC, in its verdict on Friday, had nullified the nomination papers to be submitted by the candidates for general polls 2018, stating they did not seek necessary information and declarations such as details on educational background and criminal record. – NNI