Punjab, KP polls suo motu: Ruling parties request SC to form full court bench

Punjab, KP polls suo motu: Ruling parties request SC to form full court bench

Islamabad (Web Desk): The main parties of the coalition government on Friday requested the Supreme Court (SC) to form a full court bench to hear the suo motu notice taken by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial regarding the delay in the announcement of a date for elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

A nine-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ahsan, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Naqvi, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Athar Minallah, is hearing the case.

Three main parties of the coalition government, including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) requested the court to form a full court bench.

Barrister Ali Zafar, JUI’s counsel Kamran Murtaza and PPP’s lawyer Farooq H. Naik appeared in court.

PML-N’s lawyer Mansoor Awan and the Punjab governor’s counsel Mustafa Ramde were also in attendance.

Attorney General Shahzad Atta Elahi and Additional Attorney General Aamir Rehman as well as other legal fraternity representatives and political leaders are also attended the hearing.

At the outset of today's hearing, the attorney general told the court that they had not received the copy of the order which is why all parties did not appear today.

At this, CJP Bandial remarked that the purpose of today's hearing was to inform the relevant authorities about the suo motu notice.

Farooq H Naik read out a joint statement of the PPP, the JUI-F and the PML-N.

The PDM lawyer also requested Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan and Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi to recuse themselves from the nine-member bench currently hearing the suo motu notice.

“With great respect, I am objecting to the inclusion of two judges in the bench. The [party] leaders have decided to object to [their inclusion].”

In its hearing on Thursday, the SC issued notices to President of Pakistan, Governors of Punjab and KP, ECP, AGP and others in suo moto case pertaining to election date for the Punjab and KP assemblies.

At the outset of the today hearing, Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah of the Supreme Court (SC) raised questions on the dissolution of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies.

The court observed that the authority for giving the date of the elections after the dissolution of the assembly needs clarification.

On February 22, CJP Umar Ata Bandial took a suo moto notice over the delay in the election of two provincial assemblies of Punjab and KP.

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”.

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.