Elections suo motu case verdict: Chief Justice says polls in Punjab and KP to be held in 90 days
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial said that elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa will be held within 90 days from the dissolution of assemblies.
The CJP announced the verdict in suo motu case on delay in polls in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Out of five-member bench of the apex court, three judges supported elections within 90 days while two judges gave a different viewpoint. Justices Mansoor Ali Shah and Mandokhel differed with the decision of the apex court.
The bench reserved its decision on Tuesday after hearing arguments from the counsels of all the stakeholders. The court, therefore, decided to announce its verdict on Wednesday around 11 am.
The court stated that the KP Assembly had been dissolved after the governor signed the summary, while the Punjab Assembly had dissolved on its own after 48 hours as the governor did not sign the summary.
The top court ruled that the Constitution gives powers to the governor on three conditions, under which he can dissolve the assembly under Article 112 or on the advice of the chief minister.
Article 222 says that the election was a subject for the Centre, it added.
The court further stated that the Election Act 2017 gives the governor and the president the power to announce a date for the polls.
“If the governor has dissolved the assembly, then he would announce the date,” CJP Bandial said.
The court stated that in case the governor does not dissolve the assembly, the president then has the power to dissolve the assembly under Section 57 and announce the date of election.
However, the court stressed that the governor had the constitutional responsibility of announcing the date.
The court directed President Arif Alvi to announce the date of the Punjab election after consulting with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), and directed the KP governor to announce the date for polls in his province.
During Tuesday’s hearing, the chief justice asked the lawyers of political parties to give a date after consulting the leaders. However, neither PML-N nor PPP counsels gave any date arguing that political parties need more time for consultation on this issue.
Farooq H. Naik, counsel for the PDM, told the court that the leaders of the PDM are of the opinion that the political parties are not supposed to give a date for elections.
Consequently, the chief justice reserved the verdict and adjourned the hearing saying that the court will announce a decision on Wednesday morning.
The apex court also noted that President Alvi has wrongly given a date for elections in KP because the Governor of the province dissolved the assembly on the advice of the chief minister. As per the law, Governor is supposed to give a date for polls.
However, President Alvi was right in giving a date for polls in Punjab as Governor did not sign the dissolution of the assembly.
Earlier, on Tuesday the chief justice said that the President of Pakistan can give elections date. He said that the parliament has clearly defined in the Elections Act 2017, that the president can announce a date for elections.
Bandial explained that President Dr. Alvi observed that the Governors of KP and Punjab failed to announce the election date.
Consequently, the President of Pakistan announced the date for polls in Punjab and KP on April 9.
The CJP reconstituted the 9-member bench of the Supreme Court when four judges refused to hear the case on Monday. Justices Ijaz Ul Ahsan, Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Athar Minallah, and Justice Yahya Afridi recused themselves from hearing the case on Monday.
Now the five-member is led by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial and it consists of Justices Munib Akhtar, Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Mansoor Ali Shah, and Mandokhail who conducted today’s hearing.