ISLAMABAD, Mar 27 (APP):The Supreme Court on Monday served notices to respondents in a petition challenging the notification of Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for delaying the elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces.
The top court served the notices for Tuesday to Federation, ECP, Governors and governments of KPK and Punjab in the case.
A five-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial, heard the case filed by Pakistan
Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) against the postponement of elections’ schedule in two provinces.
During the course of proceedings, the Chief Justice remarked that government and PTI should themselves decide what was appropriate for the country and the nation. The two sides had to assure the court if they wanted the polls to be peaceful and transparent, he said.
The Chief Justice said that the current political environment was somehow tense due to the differences among politicians. The elections could only be held when the environment was conducive, he said, adding facts couldn’t be ignored as the ECP needed facilities and assistance to hold the polls.
The CJP said that the Constitution was not meant for just forming or toppling the governments and it was being interpreted keeping in view the public will and welfare. Justice Bandial said that the elections were imperative to run the governance system and the process must be transparent under Article 218 of the Constitution.
The Chief Justice questioned that whether the ECP could undo the election date announced by the President of Pakistan, adding there was no judgment of the top court on this point.
The CJP observed that there were several precedents in the history to extend the election dates, adding it was delayed after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto but there was a national consensus on the issue.
He remarked that the elections was a matter related to the fundamental rights of people of the provinces. Several key issues including implementation of the court decision, were also part of the case, he said.
He said that elections were delayed in 1988 due to the change in government. It must be viewed that whether there was any article in the Constitution regarding the period of an interim government. Whether the support of Article 254 of the Constitution could be warranted by the ECP in this matter as this couldn’t change the period of an acting government, he asked.
The Chief Justice said that Article 254 didn’t allow any violation of the Constitution.
Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan remarked that the ECP had adopted the stance that it couldn’t fix the polling date but now it had given new date in this regard. Was it not the contradiction in the stance of the ECP, he asked.
PTI’s lawyer Barrister Ali Zafar adopted the stance that the ECP had refused to accept the decision of President and issued a new elections schedule. He claimed that the ECP had violated the decisions of the top court three times.
He prayed the court to ensure implementation of its orders regarding the elections in the provinces.
Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail said that it was the responsibility of the high court to ensure the implementation of the verdict. He asked whether the date announced by the President was within the 90 days of the dissolution of assemblies.
Barrister Ali Zafar said that elections would never be held if the excuse of shortage of funds was heeded to. He said that one high court couldn’t hear this case as it was related to the two provinces.
Justice Munib Akhtar remarked that only the top court could determine whether its orders were violated or not.
Barrister Ali Zafar said that the ECP had no authority to give new elections schedule as per the Constitution. He said that the ECP had also ignored the decision of the top court in delaying the polls. He said that the Constitution didn’t allow to give elections date while exceeding the 90 days.
The court adjourned further hearing of the case till Tuesday while issuing notices to respondents.