Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial on the hearing of the delay in the Punjab Polls said that decision to postpone polls in Punjab was penned in haste by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
In today’s hearing CJP proposed a pay cut for himself and other judges for carrying out elections in the country as the government did not have funds to give to ECP for polls.
The Top Judge passed these remarks after the Supreme Court resumed the hearing on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) petition challenging the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision on Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa elections.
A five-member bench comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Aminuddin Khan, and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail is hearing the case.
During the hearing, Justice Jamal Mandokhail asked the ECP what would the date for the election be if its decision for delaying the vote was revoked.
The hearing was then postponed till 11:30 am tomorrow (Wednesday).
The CJP remarks came after two Supreme Court judges Justice Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail called for revisiting the “one-man show” powers enjoyed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial.
The two judges including Justice Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail issued a detailed dissenting note on Punjab and KP election suo motu notice taken by the chief justice.
The dissenting note stated that the CJP has the authority to take sou motu notice and constitute special benches but it will result in criticism and affect the public’s trust in the Supreme Court.
The judges stated that it is high time that they revisit the power of the ‘one-man show’ enjoyed by the office of the Chief Justice of Pakistan and his powers must be regulated.
Justice Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail in their dissenting note rejected the pleas pertaining to elections in Punjab and KP and said that the LHC should announce the verdict within three days.
In today’s hearing top judge of the Supreme Court Umar Bandial welcomed the newly appointed Attorney General for Pakistan Mansoor Usman Awan. While seeing “good friend” Farooq H Naek, the CJP remarked that the court would need the assistance of the senior lawyer on the matter.
As today’s proceedings started, Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Usman Awan mentioned the dissenting notes of two SC judges and raised questions over the maintainability of the PTI’s petition. “The elections matter should be referred to the Lahore High Court (LHC) after issuance of two judges’ opinions wherein they dismissed suo motu verdict by 3 to 4.
At this, CJP Bandial said that the present case is a completely different matter.
CJP Bandial said that the “question in front of the court is a simple one, can the ECP postpone the election date or not”?
The CJP remarked that the court does not want to drag this matter, adding that “If the ECP has the authority [to extend the date] then the matter will be over”.
“If the political temperature stays so high, problems will increase,” CJP added.
At this, PPP lawyer Farooq H. Naek said that there was “anarchy and fascism” in the country today.
Justice Ijazul Ahsan questioned whether ECP has the right to change the election schedule announced by President Alvi?
“The point is that does ECP has the right to delay elections beyond 90 days,” Justice Ijazul Ahsan said.
Chief Justice Umar Bandial remarked that right now the case was not about giving the election date but about the delay. He added that elections were necessary for a democracy.
“Two honorable judges gave a decision. It’s the opinion of those two judges but is not related to the current case. Do not bypass a sensitive matter,” remarked the CJP.
The AGP responded that the current petition was seeking the implementation of the court orders in the March 1 judgment. At this, CJP Bandial remarked that the bench members were there to review the questions raised in the petition. Apex court’s jurisdiction wasn’t limited to just the petition, he added.
The top judge further pointed out that the security personnel in KP conducted the highest number of operations. He revealed that 61 operations in Punjab, 367 in Sindh and 1,245 operations were conducted in KP.
Here, the top judge stated that the polls could only be delayed if an emergency was imposed [in the country].
The court then adjourned the proceedings until tomorrow.
Supreme Court Notify ECP
On Monday’s hearing Supreme court of Pakistan sends notice to the Election Commission of Pakistan after the Electoral watchdog refrains to conduct the Punjab Polls. The court also issued notices to governors of two provinces through the chief secretary.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) has sought assurances from the federal government and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in the election delay case.
As per details, the Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial said that it is unfortunate that all the respondents are in confrontation with each other. The federal government and PTI have to assure that they want a transparent election or not.
“The court only needs assurance from both sides. The elections should be peaceful, transparent, and fair. If the government and PTI want elections, they have to give assurances,” Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial said
The SC’s judge said that the Constitution was interpreted while keeping the life and happiness of people in mind.
CJP also raised the question of delay in the election.
He said that the election date has been extended. Does Article 254 allow this? The court has one other case of Article 254 too. He added that the President’s date for the election is also not within 90 days.
The top judge added that the court was determined to “dispose of this case as soon as possible”.
“The Election Commission should answer the questions raised in PTI’s petition,” he said while addressing the electoral authority.
ECP Delay the Elections
Remember that On Wednesday Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced to delay of the Punjab by-Polls that were scheduled to be held on 30th April 2023.
According to details, the Election Commission issued the Punjab Polls Program notification issued on 8th March and decided to postpone the Punjab election and announced 8th October 2023 as the new date for elections in Punjab.
The ECP spokesman said that President Dr. Arif Alvi has also been informed about the postponement of elections in Punjab, adding that the new election schedule will release soon.
The spokesperson added that the elections were postponed under Article 218(3) and Sections 58 and 8C of the Election Act, 2017.
As ECP delay the Punjab Elections, President Pendowns a letter to Premier Shehbaz Sharif urging him to direct ECP to conduct the election as per supreme court orders.
In a letter written to PM Shehbaz Sharif, the president asked him to direct the concerned authority to hold Punjab and KP elections on time and take measures in order to not get involved in contempt court complexities.
The letter further reads that the Primer should direct the concerned authorities to avoid human rights violations on social and print media as it happened in the recent past.
in response to President’s letter PM Shehbaz replied that his letter regarding the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa elections read like a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) press release which is “blatantly partisan in nature” and supports the Imran Khan-led party’s “one-sided and anti-government” views.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, in his reply, wrote that the letter did not reflect the constitutional position of the president and that is what you have constantly been doing۔ “Your letter contains one-sided, anti-government views that you express openly.”
The premier further added that on April 3, 2022, he dissolved the National Assembly and followed the unconstitutional directive of the former prime minister۔
“Your [president] order to dissolve the National Assembly was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court on April 7۔
He added that President Alvi failed to fulfill the constitutional duty to administer the oath to him as the prime minister under Article 91, clause 5.
PM Shehbaz concluded his letter by saying that he is “fully aware” of his duties and the duties of the government. “Our government is fully committed to preserving, protecting, and defending the Constitution and ensuring that the fundamental rights guaranteed to the citizens of Pakistan are not violated,” he continued.
He said that the government is also determined to ensure that no one is allowed to violate the law, create unrest and attempt to cause irreparable harm to the state of Pakistan.
“I want to further assure you that our Government will thwart any efforts to undermine the constitutionally elected government,” he added.