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ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa made it clear that if anyone casts doubt on the final date for holding of general elections across the country, then the Supreme Court would “deal” with it.

At the end of the hearing on Friday, the chief justice asked if anyone had objection to the election date but none of the counsels, representing the petitioners, the attorney general for Pakistan (AGP), who represented the federation, and advocates general of all the provinces and the Islamabad Capital Territory objected to the date (February 8, 2024).

The court expected that as soon as all the legal requirements of the delimitations are completed the programme for the general elections will be announced by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

SC directs ECP to give date after consultation with President

The order dictated in the court said; “We (bench) have small part in ensuring that the President and the ECP meet, which was facilitated by Attorney General for Pakistan Mansoor Usman Awan, and the matter was resolved to the satisfaction of all.”

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, and comprising Justice Aminud Din Khan and Justice Athar Minallah, on Friday heard the petitions of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, and others seeking directives to the concerned authorities to hold general elections within 90 days as stipulated by the Constitution.

The CJP said the message should be clear to all that the general elections across the country will be held on the date (February 8, 2024), announced by the ECP and the President’s Office. He said if the media houses create doubts about elections then they will be violating the SC’s order, and Commission shall take action and report the matter to PEMRA. On a lighter note, Justice Faez said if someone casts doubt about the elections then they should instead of talking in public, talk to their wives.

Justice Athar Minallah stated as now, the final date has been submitted before the apex court no one would be allowed to violate it. “This Court knows how to enforce its order,” he added.

Earlier, AGP Mansoor Usman Awan placed a letter issued by the President’s Office, and signed by the president’s secretary regarding the election date. It states that after due deliberation with the members of the ECP, wherein, the AGP was present, it was agreed that the elections will be held on February 8, 2024.

Shajeel Sheryar Swati, representing the ECP, submitted the minutes of the Commission, which was signed by the Election Commissioner and the four members of the ECP. It mentioned that the president agreed to holding of election date (February 8, 2024). He also provided a copy of the ECP’s notification, which states “… General Elections to the National Assembly and the Provincial Assemblies of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan will be held on February 8, 2024.”

The Supreme Court’s order stated admittedly, the National Assembly was dissolved on the advice of the prime minister on 9th May 2023, where after, the date of holding elections was to be announced under Article 48(5) of the constitution and Section 57 of the Election Act, 2017.

It noted that apparently, the impasse took place between the President of Pakistan and the ECP over appointing of date for holding the general elections.

Barrister Ali Zafar pointed out to the court that a letter written by the President on 13-09-2023 was addressed to the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and the members of the ECP. The said letter concluded; “the ECP in consultation with the provinces and the political parties may seek guidance from the superior judiciary for the announcement of the election date.”

A representative of the ECP confirmed the receipt of the said letter and stated that neither the members of the ECP nor the CEC responded to the said letter.

The order said that the President’s letter and the stance taken by the ECP placed the Supreme Court in an awkward position, as the constitution or any law did not prescribe that the Supreme Court determine the election date.

The order said the Court having highest regard for the President is surprised that the President has sought guidance in a matter with that neither the apex court nor any court has any concern. If the President needed the Supreme Court’s advice, he could have sought it under Article 186 of the Constitution.

The order further said that the holder of any constitutional office and the constitutional body which includes the President and the ECP must do what the constitution requires them to do. It noted that the President’s oath is given in Article 42, while the CEC and the members of the Commission shall take oath according to Article 214 of the constitution.

The order said now it is the 50th year of the subsistence of the constitution, but still the representatives of the people and the constitutional office and the constitutional bodies are not fully aware of the constitutional transgression.

It said incidentally in the history of Pakistan 15 years ago another constitutional transgression took place. The matter of constitutional transgression is grave and has long lasting effect; however, the transgression continues till date.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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PT Nov 04, 2023 11:14am
A country with no rule of law...where generals and judges toy with constitution at will...and set free traitors who committed espionage!
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KU Nov 04, 2023 11:59am
The CJ is well placed to also look into citizens' suffering and their search for justice in cases on proprietary rights which they have been fighting in courts for the last 60 years. There are thousands of litigants all over Punjab and now their third generation is pursuing these cases, while some have passed away in miserable circumstances. These owners of the land were moved to alternate lands to make way for dams, projects, and canals or were part of development schemes introduced by the government in the '60s and '70s, but the corrupt offices of the Raj require gratifications to allow them ownership of lands that are being cultivated by them for over 60 years.
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