SC dismisses ECP's plea seeking review of Punjab elections order

SC dismisses ECP's plea seeking review of Punjab elections order

Islamabad (Web Desk): The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday dismissed a plea filed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) seeking review of the top court's order on holding Punjab Assembly's election on May 14.

A three-member bench headed headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Ijazul Ahsan announced the unanimous verdict.

In his remarks, the CJP said that the court will intervene whenever there is a Constitutional violation.

At the outset of the hearing, ECP lawyer Sajeel Swati sought one more week for preparation.

However, the CJP asked the lawyer to inform the court of his stance, saying that the bench would review the case.

The ECP's lawyer maintained that they had received the detailed order regarding the Punjab polls two weeks ago therefore they wanted to submit some additional documents in the light of this verdict.

Upon this, Justice Akhtar remarked that the matter before the bench was a review petition and a verdict on the election delay case had already been announced.

In his remarks Justice Ahsan observed that the Constitution does not give the ECP the authority to extend the election date, while the SC has also ruled the same.

Before wrapping up the case, the CJP declared that the ECP's plea could not be accepted in the current situation, so it is being dismissed.

It is pertinent to mention that the initial bench formed to hear the election delay case comprised five members, including the existing bench members and Justice Amin-Ud-Din Khan, and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail.

However, it was reconstituted multiple times due to the recusal of the two judges and subsequent dissolution.
Later, the three-member bench rejected Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan’s request for the formation of a full court to hear Pakistan Tehreek-eInsaf (PTI) case against ECP's decision to delay the elections.

In a unanimous decision on April 4, the top court had quashed the electoral body’s decision to extend the date for polls in the province from April 10 to Oct 8 and fixed May 14 as the new date.

"Constitution and law do not give the authority to postpone the election date," said the apex court, adding that the electoral process was at its fifth stage when the ECP announced its decision.

In its verdict, the court clarified that the ECP could not go beyond the 90-day stipulated time.
The court directed the ECP to reinstate its previous election schedule under which polls were to be held and extended it by 13 days.

The court directed to conduct provincial assembly polls between April 30 to May 15.

On March 22, the ECP delayed the provincial assembly election in the politically crucial Punjab province by more than five months, citing the deteriorating security situation in the cash-starved country, a move criticised by PTI chairman Imran Khan.

In May, the ECP had filed a petition seeking a review of the earlier order maintaining that changing the election programme was the solitary domain of the ECP under Section 58 of the Elections Act, 2017.