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ISLAMABAD: Three major coalition partners in Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government prayed to the Supreme Court to constitute a bench comprising all the judges of the Court excluding Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi to hear suo moto on delay in announcement of dates for elections of the Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa assemblies.

Pakistan Peoples’ Party Parliamentarian (PPPP), Jamiat Ulema Islam (Pakistan) (JUI-P), and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Saturday filed an application before the apex court. PPPP, PML-N, and JUI (P) on Friday had objected to the inclusion of Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi in the nine-member bench and requested them to recuse from the bench as they have already disclosed their mind.

Inclusion in bench on polls: 2 judges attract objections

Naek submitted that the division bench comprising Justice Ijaz and Justice Naqvi on 16-02-23 have already disclosed their mind on the subject matter in SMC No 1 2023 as well as connected petitions. He also said that Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail wrote a note on Thursday (23-02-23), which is very alarming, as the judge has raised serious objections on the suo moto.

Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial on February 22 constituted nine-judge bench, headed by him and comprised Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, and Justice Athar Minallah to consider the questions; Who has the constitutional responsibility and authority for appointing the date for the holding of a general election to a Provincial Assembly, upon its dissolution in the various situations envisaged by and under the Constitution? How and when is this constitutional responsibility to be discharged?

During the first hearing of the suo moto, Justice Athar Minallah raised the question, whether the Assemblies were dissolved in accordance with the constitution as the Court in exercise of Article 184(3) considering the questions. He said the representatives are elected for five years. Is this the right of a political leader or the political party regarding dissolution of the assemblies? Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah said the Court would also need to see why the provincial assemblies were dissolved if there was no solid reason. “Can we (Court) restore the assemblies and if the assemblies are restored then the matter would be resolved.” Justice Minallah questioned whether the chief minister can act on the dictate of a political leader to dissolve the assembly.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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