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Five-member SC begins hearing PTI’s petition against election delay

The Supreme Court (SC) heard PTI’s petition against the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision to postpone Punjab Assembly elections until October 8.

The case is being heard by a five-member larger bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial and consisting of Justices Ijazul Ahsan, Munib Akhtar, Aminuddin Khan, and Jamal Khan Mandokhail.

The court issued notices to PTI lawyers ahead of the hearing.

In an unexpected move on March 22, the ECP postponed the elections for more than five months, citing the country’s deteriorating security situation and a lack of security personnel.

Following that, Barrister Syed Ali Zafar filed a petition on behalf of PTI officials, requesting that the ECP hold the elections on the previously set date of April 30.

The petition, filed by PTI Secretary General Asad Umar, former Punjab Assembly Speaker Mohammad Sibtain Khan, former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani, and former Punjab lawmakers Abdul Rehman and Mian Mahmoodur Rashid, argued that the ECP’s decision violated the Constitution and amounted to amending and subverting it.

The Hearing

Barrister Zafar informed the court at the start of today’s hearing that the Supreme Court, in its March 1 orders, had directed the ECP to determine a date for elections in Punjab and KP.

The Supreme Court ordered on March 1 that the election to the Punjab Assembly is held within 90 days and that the date be announced by the president. It also instructed the authorities to provide ECP with funds and security personnel for the elections.

“On March 8, the ECP issued the schedule for elections in Punjab, whereas the KP governor did not announce a date for the polls,” PTI lawyer said today in the Supreme Court.

He claimed that the electoral commission had violated the law three times, explaining that the ECP had rejected the president’s election schedule.

Zafar went on to say that the electoral body has now postponed the elections until October 8, claiming that “it lacks the authority to set a new date for the polls.”

“The election commission violated the 90-day period [for announcing election dates].” “According to the Constitution, the ECP has no authority to change the date [for polls] or extend the 90-day deadline,” he said, emphasizing that the ECP “ignored” the court’s orders.

“What do you want from the court?” Justice Mandokhail inquired.

Barrister Zafar responded that the petitioner wanted the Supreme Court to ensure the Constitution and its own orders was followed.

“It is the high court’s responsibility to carry out court orders,” Justice Mandokhail responded.

Meanwhile, PTI lawyer stated that if the ECP’s explanation for the poll delay is accepted, “elections will never take place.” “The matter simply has nothing to do with the court’s orders.”

“The matter of elections in two provinces cannot be heard by a high court,” he reasoned, adding that the SC had previously exercised its authority on the matter and retained jurisdiction over it.

At that point, Justice Akhtar stated that the ECP’s decisions had become “an impediment in the orders of the SC.”

“Only the Supreme Court can decide whether or not the orders were violated,” the judge pointed out.

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