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Punjab, KP polls: CJP says two judges’ “opinion” irrelevant to current issue

A day after Justices Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and Jamal Khan Mandokhail wrote a harsh dissenting opinion on the March 1 ruling on the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa elections, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial said that it was just their “opinion” and had nothing to do with the current case.

The Chief Justice of Pakistan made the statement as the Supreme Court resumed hearing the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) case contesting the decision of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) regarding the elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The five-member bigger bench hearing the plea is presided over by CJP Bandial. The bench also consists of Justices Ijaz Ul Ahsan, Munib Akhtar, Amin-Ud-Din Khan, and Jamal Khan Mandokhail in addition to the Chief Justice of Pakistan.

The Punjab elections were postponed to October 8 due to an appeal filed by the Imran Khan-led party against the Pakistani Election Commission (ECP).

As the financial and security agencies announced their unwillingness to support the election, the electoral board made its announcement.

The governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa then requested the electoral board to hold general elections on the same day (October 8) as the Punjab elections due to the mounting security risks posed by terrorist organizations operating in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border regions.

Today’s hearing

Mansoor Usman Awan, the newly appointed attorney general for Pakistan, was welcomed by CJP Bandial at the beginning of the hearing. The CJP mentioned that the court would require the senior attorney’s help on the subject while he was visiting with his “good buddy” Farooq H Naek.

The court does not intend to drag out this matter, the CJP said.

He said that ECP’s jurisdiction as per yesterday’s order will be considered by the court, while the request of the ruling coalition parties to become a party in the case will be looked into later.

Democracy and the rule of law are two sides of the same coin. Mutual respect, perseverance, and law and order are all necessary “CJP Bandial made a note.

Naek interrupted and informed the bench that they had a stake in the outcome of the case.

At this point, the CJP reassured the senior attorney that while no one disputed Naek’s significance, he personally felt that they shouldn’t get into a legal argument.

He claimed that while the court had to consider the facts, the parties had to decide how the circumstances would play out.

Regarding the March 1 decision, I believe that the president has the legal authority to announce the date of the elections. File a different petition if you want more information about the March 1 decision, the CJP advised. The “basic question” in this case, he continued, was whether or not the ECP may change the election date.

The CJP stated that if ECP has the authority, the situation will be resolved.

Attorney General, on the other hand, argued that if the court’s judgment was 4-3, then there is no order. He continued by saying that the president cannot announce the election date if there is no judicial injunction.

AGP stated that the March 1 decision should be made first.

At this point, CJP Bandial noted that the issue at hand was the delay rather than the announcement of the election date. Elections, he continued, were essential to a democracy.

“A decision was made by two honorable judges. Although it has nothing to do with the current case, it is those two judges’ opinion. Do not ignore a delicate situation, the CJP advised.

In response, AGP stated that the new petition sought to have the court orders of the March 1 verdict implemented.

The bench members were there to consider the issues stated in the petition, CJP Bandial said at this point. He said that the petition was only one aspect of the Apex court’s jurisdiction.

AGP intervened at this point and urged the convening of a full court to hear the case.

AGP stated, “It is a request that a full court should be convened because this is a serious subject and the bench believes it necessary.”

The number of judges who supported the March 1 decision, according to Judge Mandokhail, was an internal matter for the Supreme Court.

Please clarify whether the Constitution calls for elections to be held within 90 days and whether the ECP is permitted to postpone the election date.

The CJP congratulated Judge Mandokhail for resolving the issue after hearing him speak.

Ali Zafar, an attorney for PTI, meanwhile said that every institution must operate within the confines of the constitution.

When this happened, CJP Bandial commented that he anticipated the senior leadership of the PTI to behave in the same way as the lawyer had. Additionally, he inquired about the attorney’s conversations with senior party officials.

The chief justice said, “PTI would have to be the first [one to comment] because they have sought the court.” Using the excuse that there was violence, bigotry, and an economic crisis in the country, he advised the case’s parties to keep their disputes between themselves.

Lawyer Zafar said at this point that if the elections are postponed, these difficulties would worsen.

Then, CJP Bandial said that only if PTI took the initiative would it order the government.

Judge Khan then enquired as to whether the 90-day window prior to the election may be shortened.

Judge Ahsan then stated that the ECP was required to provide the election schedule within 90 days. Lawyer Zafar argued that once the electoral watchdog issued an order, it could not be revoked.

Judge Mandokhail said, “Unfortunately, no one has any doubt that elections today cannot be held in 90 days. He also questioned whether a democratic approach to solving the problem existed.

Elections must be held no matter what, bemoaned Judge Mandokhail, but no one in Pakistan seems to care about the Constitution anymore.

The justice said, “The issue is who has the power to prolong the period of 90 days and if the assembly should be disbanded at one person’s request.

The prime minister and chief minister are the elected representatives, according to PTI’s attorney.

Judge Mandokhail noted that if the prime minister’s own party moves a no-confidence motion against him, the legislature can be dissolved.

However, Lawyer Ali Zafar argued that in the event of a motion of no confidence, the assembly could not be dissolved.

Judge Mandokhail suggested that the Parliament evaluate the constitutionality of a single person’s power to call for the dissolution of an assembly.

At this point, the attorney Zafar stated that the Parliament might discuss the power of the PM and CM.

He underlined that the fundamental right to vote cannot be delayed and noted that previous efforts to postpone the election had been attempted.

In contrast to the governor, who claimed to have the authority to announce the date of the elections, the ECP insisted that it was unable to do so, Zafar continued.

On this, Justice Ahsan stated that the top court’s decision had been implemented at the same time the election schedule was announced. The bench was asked, nonetheless, if the ECP had the power to alter the date specified by the president.

He questioned, “Can the election commission postpone [elections] beyond 90 days.”

CJP Bandial noted that Section 58 of the Election Act did not permit the postponement of the election.

At this point, Barrister Zafar argued that two Constitutional provisions served as the ECP’s foundation for its order.

The electoral watchdog had, Judge Mandokhail then intervened, excused itself from carrying out the constitutional obligation while outlining the justifications.

What would have occurred if the ECP hadn’t specified October 8 as the date, he wondered.

Justice Ahsan then remarked that the electoral body could have requested a change in the election date from the president.

“Each and every administrative institution is required to work with the ECP. Only if there are good reasons can the election commission approach, “said he.

All governments and institutions are required by Article 220 of the Constitution to work with the ECP, but only the institutions’ input was considered by the electoral body when making a decision, according to Barrister Zafar.

He urged the court to inquire as to why the election watchdog failed to exercise its legal authority. He stated that if the administrative institutions don’t collaborate, Article 5 of the Constitution would be in effect.

According to the attorney, Article 254 of the ECP grants the power to postpone elections.

Judge Mandokhail then commented that the election’s date had passed the allotted 90-day window.

He questioned whether the date after the 90-day period was accurate.

Lawyer Zafar acknowledged that even if the court issued an order immediately once, the polls could not be held within 90 days.

Judge Mandokhail noted at this point that the president had also provided a date following the 90-day window.

Article 254 can be used, but not before the work has been completed, he continued.

The ruling coalition decides to join a party just in case
The ruling alliance made the decision to join the proceedings a few hours before the hearing on Tuesday began again.

As the hearing picks back up, the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party, and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) will each offer a position on the issue.

Article 254 can be used, but not before the work has been completed, he continued.

The ruling coalition decides to become party in case

The ruling alliance made the decision to join the proceedings a few hours before the hearing on Tuesday began again.

As the hearing picks back up, the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party, and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) will each offer a position on the issue.

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