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Wednesday, July 17, 2024  
11 Muharram 1446  

Rights of people of two provinces linked to elections, says SC’s Justice Akhtar

Supreme Court adjourns hearing on ECP's review petition till 12pm on Wednesday
(L to R) A combination of file photos show Justice Munib Akhtar, CJP Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan. Source – Supreme Court of Pakistan website
(L to R) A combination of file photos show Justice Munib Akhtar, CJP Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan. Source – Supreme Court of Pakistan website

The rights of millions of people in the country were linked to elections, Supreme Court’s Justice Munib Akhtar said on Tuesday while hearing the ECP’s review petition on snap polls in Punjab.

“The rights of the people of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are connected to elections,” he said. The top court judge is part of a three-member bench formed to hear the review petition. “Public interest is in holding elections in 90 days.”

A three-member bench comprising CJP Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, and Justice Munib Akhtar is presiding over the case.

On the last hearing, the top court expressed hope that reiterated the importance of talks between the government and opposition to end the election stalemate.

At the hearing on Tuesday, ECP lawyer Sajeel Swati said that the federal government and Punjab have submitted their replies.

“I think the PTI has not submitted its response yet,” the CJP said. To this, Swati said that the ECP had yet not received the responses of PTI or any other political party.

“Please give us a chance to review all the responses,” the ECP lawyer requested. But, CJP Bandial asked Swati to present his arguments in the case.

“If you want to raise any new point in the next hearing, you can do it,” the top judge remarked, asking about the new grounds that could be taken in the review petition.

Meanwhile, SC’s Justice Akhtar said that the rights of millions of people in the country were linked to elections and stressed that the public interest was in holding polls within 90 days.

Responding to the ECP lawyer, the chief justice remarked that according to you, the jurisdiction of review petition was not limited and the procedure was limited.

Subsequently, the hearing was adjourned till 12pm tomorrow (Wednesday).

PTI urges court to reject review petition

In its reply, the PTI urged the court to reject the ECP’s review petition. “The ECP has raised new points in the review petition,” it said and added that the commission intended to present fresh arguments through the plea.

The former ruling party added that the top court has not given an election date in its decision, adding that the SC set a 90-day deadline for holding polls.

“The president gave April 30 date for elections and the ECP changed the date,” it said, “the Supreme Court has the power to review the ECP”.

The party alleged that the commission wanted to revive the “doctrine of necessity”, which it claimed was “buried”.

Election in 90 days was a constitutional requirement, the reply said and highlighted that Article 224 (time of election and by-election) of the Constitution cannot be ignored under Article 218 (election commission).

“The Constitution gives the right to dissolve assemblies. It is not written in the Constitution that all elections should be held simultaneously. There can be no amendments to the SC Constitution on the ECP’s order. The reason for looking at extraterrestrial facts without the constitution is the doctrine of necessity. Such a dangerous argument was used in the past to break the Constitution. The court has rejected such an argument forever,” it said.

ECP’s petition

The Supreme Court has overstepped its authority as the top court does not have the authority to fix the date of the elections, said the ECP petition. “The court can interpret the law but cannot rewrite it.”

The ECP added that the government did not provide them with security and required funds for the elections in Punjab. It was of the view that the National Assembly elections would not be transparent after holding snap polls in two provinces, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“The Supreme Court in its judgment prematurely used Article 254 of the Constitution in the Haji Saifullah case. Regardless of the fact that there is a decision of an 11-member larger bench in this regard in which the election was allowed to be postponed by four months,” it said.

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