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ISLAMABAD: The extended deadline for the candidates, contesting Punjab Assembly general elections, for the submission of party tickets, went passed on Wednesday midnight, as the electoral body is now scheduled to issue the final list of the contestants.

The poll body, to this effect, announced on Wednesday to keep the offices of the returning officers opened to allow the candidates to submit their party tickets for the award of electoral symbols.

On April 5, a day after Supreme Court fixed May 14 as general polls date for Punjab, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) issued the related schedule for elections — two weeks after it revised the Punjab’s election date to postpone the elections for over five months - from April 30 to October 8.

According to the schedule, the date for the submission of party tickets by the contesting candidates was April 20 before the commission extended this date till April 26 midnight.

On April 4, in a landmark decision, the apex court declared the decision of ECP to hold Punjab general polls on October 8 as “unconstitutional, without lawful authority or jurisdiction, void ab initio, and of no legal effect,” ordering to hold the Punjab Assembly elections on May 14.

“Neither the constitution nor the law empowers the commission to extend the date of elections beyond the 90-day period as provided in Article 224(2) of the Constitution,” said the order.

On March 22, only two weeks after first issuing Punjab polls schedule on March 8, in pursuance of the Supreme Court’s order, the ECP appeared to have backed off from holding timely elections in Pakistan’s largest province by revising the poll date from April 30 to October 8.

The ECP cited the inputs received from government departments concerned suggesting security threats and funding of shortage as major reasons for delaying the polls.

On March 3, President Arif Alvi announced April 30 as the date for general elections in Punjab — keeping in view that the ECP proposed the Punjab general polls date between April 30 to May 7 — in a letter written by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja to President Alvi.

Before April 4 decision, the Supreme Court, in its suo moto notice over the matter, ruled that the president fix the date for Punjab general polls and governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa fix the general polls for KP — both in consultation with the ECP.

Corresponding to this move, Governor KP Ghulam Ali verbally announced May 28 as date for general polls in KP but later backtracked citing security issues. After Punjab, the ECP fixed October 8 as KP polls date for KP too, on March 29.

Regarding general polls in KP, the apex court has ruled that the matter is “not adjudicated upon, with permission granted to the petitioners to file such petition and/or seek such relief before such forum as is deemed appropriate.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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