Punjab, KP polls: 9-member SC bench begins suo motu hearing today

Punjab, KP polls: 9-member SC bench begins suo motu hearing today

Islamabad (Web Desk): A nine-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC), headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, will hear the suo motu notice over delay in the elections of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) assemblies today (Thursday).

The bench includes CJP Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Athar Minallah.

CJP Umar Ata Bandial on Wednesday took a suo moto notice over the delay in the election of two provincial assemblies of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The hearing of case was fixed for Thursday (today).

The development comes two days after President Dr Arif Alvi fixed April 9 as the date for elections to the provincial assemblies — a move condemned by the government as "unconstitutional and illegal".

The issue of delay in the polls was referred to the CJP by a two-member SC bench comprising Justice Ahsan and Justice Naqvi in the Lahore Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Ghulam Mehmood Dogar case on February 16.

As per the the apex court’s statement, the bench will assess who is eligible to issue the date for polls, the constitutional responsibility of the federation and provinces, and who will fulfil the constitutional responsibility of conducting elections and when.

The SC statement said that it is the government’s responsibility to conduct elections in Punjab and KP according to the Constitution.

The statement added that the two provincial assemblies were dissolved on January 14 and 18, respectively.

“Under Article 224 (2), elections should be held within 90 days of the assembly dissolution. The Constitution mandates that polls be held within 90 days.”

The SC statement further said that requests for the date of elections were also received from the Islamabad High Court (IHC) bar and speakers of KP and Punjab assemblies.

The Punjab and KP assemblies were dissolved on January 14 and January 18, respectively.

On January  24, the ECP wrote letters to the principal secretaries of Punjab and KP governors, suggesting elections in Punjab between April 9 and 13, and in KP between April 15 and 17.

On January 27, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) approached the LHC seeking orders for the Punjab governor to immediately announce a date for an election in the province following which the court had directed the ECP to immediately announce the date for elections after consultation with the governor.

Meanwhile, President Arif Alvi had also urged the ECP on Feb 8 to “immediately announce” the date for polls in KP and Punjab and put an end to “dangerous speculative propaganda” on both the provincial assembly and general elections.