The Supreme Court has resumed reviewing the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) petition after the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial assured that the “past will not be used against the government”. The ECP’s review petition challenges the apex court’s “right” to announce poll dates. The hearing is being presided over by CJP Bandial, Justice Munib Akhtar, and Justice Ijazul Ahsan. This is the same bench that issued the directive on April 4.
The electoral watchdog informed the apex court last month that it could not hold elections on May 5 due to security concerns and a paucity of funds. However, the commission filed a review petition seeking to overturn the court’s order, after the court repeatedly instructed it to ensure the elections. This time, the body based its argument on its assertion that deciding on the date of the elections was beyond the jurisdiction of the apex court.
Yesterday, during the hearing, the bench ensured the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan and the ECP’s legal counsel Advocate Sajeel Shehryar Swati that it had no intention of holding the government’s past actions against it. CJP Bandial also criticized the ECP for not informing the President of the situation properly and asked why the commission had not relayed its concerns to the President earlier.
The ECP filed a review petition against the court’s order passed on April 4, which set May 14 as the date for holding elections in Punjab. The electoral watchdog submitted that under the Constitution, the power of the announcement of the date for the general elections rests with bodies other than any judicial institution. Therefore, the impugned order under review had “breached the salient principle of the trichotomy of powers and thus is not sustainable”.
The ECP argued that elections, the sole responsibility of the Election Commission of Pakistan, are principally a domain of the election commission under Article 218(3) of the Constitution read with other provisions of the Constitution. The commission also submitted that in the presence of an elected government in Punjab, the general elections to the National Assembly cannot be conducted fairly.
This is a developing story and will be updated shortly…