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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court observed that now the federal government and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) are taking interest in the proceedings to review the fixing of a date for the Punjab elections.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar, on Tuesday, heard the review petition of the ECP.

The federal government and the caretaker government of Punjab in their concise statements stated that the Supreme Court order to hold elections in the Punjab on May 14 disregards and makes redundant the role of the Commission.

During the proceeding, Sajeel Sheryar Swati, ECP lawyer, urged the bench to deliver the detailed judgment of its order dated April 4, wherein, the federal government was directed to provide Rs21 billion and security to the ECP for holding elections in the Punjab.

He said: “If we have the detailed reasoning then it would help the Commission to be specific in its arguments.” However, the chief justice responding to his request said after seeing the concise statements it seems the federal government and the ECP are now taking the proceeding seriously, adding earlier it raised objections that it was the judgment of 4-3 judges, recusal of judges and their orders.

The CJP asked Swati why he had not raised those points which he is arguing now. He further asked: “Were they motivated by other considerations?”

Swati replied he argued these points in his petition. He contended that this is the case of first impression, adding while exercising the power of review jurisdiction the apex court should not go into the procedural trapping because the court has to do the complete justice.

He said that in 2020 a nine-member bench of the Indian Supreme Court has announced a judgment that restricted view would not be applied. He said that in the Anwar Bhinder case, a 14-member bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan held that the right of review cannot be restricted, but it can be enlarged.

He contended that the Supreme Court is the highest legal forum and people come for justice. He said under Article 187 the “Supreme Court shall have power to issue such directions, orders or decrees as may be necessary for doing complete justice in any case or matter pending before it, to do complete justice.”

The chief justice asked the counsel don’t equate the appeal with the review. “We have to be fair with the constitution”.

Justice Munib said the argument of complete justice can go both ways. He further said then the court would have to see what the meaning of “complete justice” is. He said holding elections is not the individual right but of the wider community.

Swati said according to the dictionary, the meaning of review is not limited. However, Justice Ijaz said review means to look at order/ judgment again.

Swati then argued that the High Courts under Article 199 have wider power than the Supreme Court under 184 (3) of the constitution, because in Article 184 (3) two conditions have been prescribed, adding the constitutional proceeding are different from the civil proceedings.

In the last hearing, the chief justice had expressed hope that talks between the coalition government and the PTI could end the stalemate on holding polls in the country.

The PTI’s concise statement, filed through Barrister Ali Zafar, said if the Court has taken a conscious and deliberate decision on a point of law or fact, then the review of such judgment is not possible. Review is not even allowed on the ground of discovery of new material if such material was available at the time of the hearing. It further said; “The petitioner is attempting to re-argue the case as if it is an appeal.”

The case was adjourned until today (Wednesday).

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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