ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) demanded that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) immediately withdraw its notification dated 22.03.2023 and strictly adhere to the earlier issued schedule.
In a statement issued on Thursday, SCBA President Abid S Zuberi and Secretary Muqtedir Akthar Shabbir strongly condemned the ECP’s notification dated 22.03.2023, whereby, the date for elections to the Punjab Assembly have been postponed to 8th October 2023 as the same is an absolute abrogation of the Constitution.
The Election Commission cannot change the date for elections under any circumstances whatsoever.
They said that the Supreme Court vide its order dated 01.03.2023 made it inexplicably clear that elections had to be held within the 90-day time period stipulated under Article 224 (2) of the Constitution. However, it is unfortunate that the ECP has acted in such blatant disregard of the constitutional mandate and the Supreme Court’s order.
ECP postpones Punjab elections till October 8
The statement said there is no provision in the Election Act or the Constitution that allows the ECP to conduct elections beyond the 90-day time period stipulated Article 224 (2) of the Constitution. It is truly unfortunate to see that the Election Commission has grossly misinterpreted the constitution, the law and order of the Supreme Court.
They pointed out that the only constitutional function of the caretaker government is to ensure the conduct of fair and transparent elections and even the caretaker government is bound by the time period stipulated in Article 224 (2). Therefore, the caretaker government cannot function beyond the 90-day period stipulated in Article 224 (2).
“Such violation of the Constitution can only lead to utter chaos and anarchy in the country. Given the current political and economic crises in the country, restoration of democracy and timely elections are the need of the hour; whereas the Election Commission in issuing the notification dated 22.03.2023 has now opened the door to absolute chaos and uncertainty.”
“It is time that we must all remember that Pakistan is a democratic state and representation of the people of Pakistan is the very foundation of our Constitution; and therefore, it is incumbent upon all state institutions to uphold and protect the mantle of democracy.”
They said that all state institutions and functionaries have taken their oath under the Constitution and it is therefore incumbent upon them to guard all provisions of the Constitution as sacrosanct, including Article 224 (2) of the Constitution. They hoped that better sense prevails and the sanctity of Article 224 (2) of the Constitution is protected.
The SCBA called upon all state institutions and functionaries to ensure that such abrogation of the Constitution is not allowed to take place.
They said that the SCBA will take all necessary and legal actions to stand behind the Constitution and the Supreme Court. It is pertinent at this stage for all Pakistanis to be united and make unanimous efforts to defend democracy and rule of law in the country.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023