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Saturday, May 25, 2024  
16 Dhul-Qadah 1445  

ECP decision evokes Parliament Vs Supreme Court debate

Elected representatives have the rule of Pakistan, not judges, says Power Minister Khurram Dastgir
Uncertainty & crisis in Pakistan | Faisla Aap Ka with Asma Shirazi | Aaj News

The Constitution says that the rule of the country lies with the elected representatives, not judges or any other institution, Power Minister Khurram Dastgir said on Thursday.

“It is too early to comment on contempt of court. This is a matter between the Election Commission of Pakistan and the Supreme Court,” he said at Asma Shirazi show Faisla Aap Ka on Aaj News.

He had joined PPP MNA Qadir Khan Mandokhail and legal expert Shoaib Shaheen to speak on the ECP’s decision to delay the Punjab elections and the PTI’s stance to challenge in the apex court.

On Wednesday The country’s top electoral authority delayed elections to the Punjab Assembly from April 30 to October 8 despite the Supreme Court’s ruling to hold it in 90 days after the dissolution of the assembly.

Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar defended the ECP by saying that the decision was taken to hold polls simultaneously.

In reaction, the PTI decided to challenge the decision and described it as a violation of the SC ruling. Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Bandial has already said that the apex court would interfere if malafide intent was proven in the conduct of general elections.

“The ECP has a huge responsibility to hold polls. One of the clauses of Article 224 of the Constitution says that elections must be held within 90 days, however, if read completely this article also highlights other issues,” Dastgir said.

When asked about contempt of court proceedings against Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, the power minister said it would be wrong to put such an accusation. He reasoned that the matter goes from the ECP to the cabinet and the prime minister. “We have made the decision after looking at facts with complete responsibility.”

He alleged that the court has treated Khan differently while speaking on the contempt of court proceedings against the former premier.

Dastgir rebuffed an impression that the ruling coalition was afraid of the PTI as he accused the Khan-led party of being a “fascist party”. The PTI has claimed that the government was running away from the election and delaying tactics were an attempt to distract the people’s attention from the economy and security.

The government was trying to hold polls in October, he said, adding that the census issue was important to the elections. “It won’t be fair that elections are held in two provinces on old census results.”

Dastgir, who belongs to the PML-N, Wednesday’s development was not leading towards Parliament Vs Supreme Court. He claimed that Parliament was taking steps for the right course of the Constitution, adding that the judiciary has its own stature and the administration has its law. “In all of this, Parliament is connected with the people.”

“It is written in the Constitution that after Allah, the rule belongs to the elected representatives, not judges or any other institution,” he said.

Shoaib Shaheen, the former president of the Islamabad High Court Bar Association, said that the concerns raised by the ECP for not holding elections have already been discussed before the top court. He read out a paragraph of the short order, saying that the governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa violated the Constitution by not appointing a date for the election.

He added they had filed a petition and later the apex court had taken a suo motu notice.

“The Constitution and Supreme Court ruling clearly state that elections shall be held within 90 days [after the dissolution of the assembly],” Shaheen said and wondered can anyone give a wrong interpretation of the SC decision.

He added that the dissolution of assemblies was an old matter, adding that ministers take political decisions while responding to a query on whose discretion both provincial assemblies were dissolved by the-then chief ministers.

Under Article 232 of the Constitution, PPP leader cMandokhail said that elections could be delayed in unavoidable circumstances. He went on to add that such a situation was obvious after the PTI sabotaged the International Monetary Fund deal by an apparent audio leak of former finance minister Shaukat Tarin and ex-KP finance czar Taimur Jhagra.

“Parliament has the right to legislation. It would cost Rs100 billion if the elections of both the assemblies are held together with the whole country,” he said.

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Khurram Dastgir

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