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ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa expressed optimism that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) before the next hearing might announce a date for general elections.

A three-judge bench, headed by the chief justice, and comprising Justice Aminuddin Khan and Justice Athar Minallah, on Monday, heard the petitions of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and others seeking directives to hold general elections within 90 days as stipulated by the Constitution.

The court issued notices to the ECP and the federation regarding not holding of elections within 90 days. Abid Zuberi, who represented the SCBA, requested the bench to direct the respondents to file a reply so they may know what their stance about holding elections is. Upon that, CJP Faez said: “Might be after reading the Court they (the ECP) may announce the (general) elections date.”

The petitioners have prayed to the apex court to direct the ECP to announce the date for polls within the constitutionally mandated period of 90 days following the dissolution of the lower house – National Assembly – on August 9. The SCBA also challenged the approval of digital census 2023 by the Council of Common Interests (CCI) on August 5.

Multifarious prayers were made in the petitions, but counsels after arguing at length at the end submitted that their main concern is the holding of elections in the country, and agreed that they would not press further prayers, and restrict to the prayer of holding of elections. They also showed faith in the three-judge bench for the hearing of the matter.

During the proceeding, the chief justice said: “We all want elections and there are no two opinions about it.” A wrong impression is being created by the media and social media that we are not interested in elections, he remarked.

Barrister Ali Zafar argued that as per the constitutional mandate, the general elections of the National Assembly should have been held on November 6, because the president on the advice of the prime minister dissolved the Assembly on August 9. He said the ECP under Article 224 of the constitution is bound to hold elections within 90 days, which it did not fulfil.

The chief justice asked Ali Zafar whom he was representing. The counsel replied General Secretary Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Omar Ayub Khan. The chief justice then remarked is he the grandson of the military dictator, who overthrew the 1956 constitution. He asked Ali Zafar how long his (Omar’s) grandfather ruled the country and how many elections were held during his tenure. “Does he (Omar) condemn his grandfather’s misdeed, as he supports the democratic system in the country?

Justice Athar asked the petitioners’ lawyers, whosoever, at the helm of affairs has not fulfilled his responsibility in holding elections within 90 days should be aware of the consequence as there is a constitutional command that elections be held within 90 upon the dissolution of the assemblies.

Advocate Abadur Rehman Lodhi, one of the petitioners, stated that the president as per the constitution is empowered to appoint a date for elections. However, he stated that the president attempted to fulfil his constitutional duty. Upon that, Justice Athar remarked the president has not to attempt, but has to fulfil his constitutional responsibility. “The consequence of violating the constitution has been given in Article 6 of the constitution.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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KU Oct 24, 2023 11:43am
Why is the CJP quiet on civilians being tried in military courts? His resolve to champion the cause of justice for the common people is perhaps lost in the mist.
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Parvez Oct 24, 2023 11:47am
If I am not wrong the SC ( under CJ Bandial ) has already ruled on this issue as per the Constitution ( and the ruling still stands ) but it was blatantly ignored by the government shifting the blame to Parliament ( by then a joke ). I wonder why CJ Issa has not stressed on this point to uphold the credibility of the SC.
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Parvez Oct 24, 2023 03:01pm
It's clear even to a blind man that Nawaz has already been appointed by " those that mattter " as the next PM. ...... so why this farce of elections ? If it's for good optics to satisfy the outside world, it's a wasted effort because they are well aware of our ground realities.
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