CJP gives important observations over petition on cancelation of provincial elections by ECP

CJP gives important observations over petition on cancelation of provincial elections by ECP

ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Monday issued notices to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for putting of the elections in Punjab, besides seeking guarantees from the government and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to bring the political intolerance to an end for peaceful, and transparent elections.

A five-member larger bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Amin-Ud-Din Khan and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, heard a joint constitutional plea regarding the date for polls in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after the electoral body and KP governor proposed delay in polls citing security and financial constraints.

The apex court has also issued notices to governors of two provinces through the chief secretary.

During the hearing, the chief justice remarked there was also need of assurance from the government and the PTI that the elections would be peaceful, transparent, and fair.

“If they want elections, they have to give guarantees,” the top judge remarked, adding it was up to the parties to decide what those assurances would be like.

He said the Constitutions did not only meant to topple each other’s governments but it was here to provide relief and happiness to people .

Saying the ongoing political intolerance has made the atmosphere poisonous, he said election could be held only in favourable conditions, adding: “No one can deny the facts”.

Justice Bandial asked both the government and the PTI to decide what is best for Pakistan.

While commenting about the jurisdiction of the ECP, the top judge said that it was just institution and it needed resources and support to hold polls in the country.

He said elections were essential to run the governance system in the country, adding Article 218 of the Constitutional asserts transparency in elections.

At one point, PTI’s counsel Barrister Ali Zafar said as per the Constitution elections must be held within 90 days and they could not be delayed for five months after the deadline.

The PTI moved the Supreme Court after the ECP announced postponement of the Punjab polls until October 8 after financial and security authorities expressed their inability to support the electoral process.

In light of the Supreme Court’s split ruling last month, President Arif Alvi announced April 30 as date for the Punjab polls.

At one point, Justice Munib Akhtar remarked that the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decisions to delay the polls had become an “obstruction” in the way of the apex court’s orders.

Meanwhile, the additional attorney-general of Pakistan requested the court to adjourn the case for two to three days. However, the request was rejected by the court.

During the hearing, the additional attorney-general sought adjournment of hearing till the appointment of new AGP, saying Barrister Shehzad Elahi had resigned from the post.

However, the chief justice said that the nominated attorney-general had visited him earlier today and would join the proceedings by tomorrow. He added that the court was determined to dispose of the case as soon as possible.

The top judge directed the ECP to submit answer of the questions raised by the PTI in its petition.