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SC to take up pleas seeking timely elections on Oct 23

SC to take up pleas seeking timely elections on Oct 23

Tooba Shakir 6 months ago 0

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Police officers walk past the Supreme Court of Pakistan building, in Islamabad, Pakistan April 6, 2022. — Reuters
Police officers walk past the Supreme Court of Pakistan building, in Islamabad, Pakistan April 6, 2022. — Reuters
  • Three-member bench to hear pleas.
  • SCBA and PTI among petitioners.
  • CJP Isa indicated hearing pleas on Thurs.

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan Friday will hear pleas for elections to be held within 90 days on October 23 (Monday).

The development was notified a day after Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa hinted at the Supreme Court’s plan to hear petitions seeking timely conduct of polls in the country after the caretaker government took over in August.

The petitions will be heard by a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faiz Isa and consisting of Justice Athar Minullah and Justice Aminuddin Khan.

The pleas have been filed by the Supreme Court Bar Association, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and others to ensure that polls in the country are conducted in a timely manner.

The PTI has welcomed the apex court’s decision to form a bench to hear petitions seeking timely conduct of polls.

“The series of serious deviations from the constitution and gross violation of the fundamental rights of the citizens is having a very negative impact on the relationship between the state and the citizens,” the party’s spokesperson said in a statement issued by its central media department.

The PTI maintained that the Constitution is, in all respects, the basis of the relationship between the sovereign, the state and the citizens as well as the guarantor of the survival, security and development of the country.

“The Supreme Court has given a very detailed interpretation of the constitutional requirement of elections in 90 days on the request of former speaker Punjab assembly in its decision of April 4, 2023,” the statement read.

The party said it hoped that the SC’s three-member bench, headed by the chief justice, will complete the hearing in a swift manner in view of the fragility of time and will ensure respect for the purpose of the Constitution regarding the holding of elections in 90 days.

A day earlier, CJP Isa had indicated that the apex court may take up the pleas calling for timely elections and challenging the decision to try civilians in military courts in the coming days.

His remarks came during the discussion about adjournment of a case related to Pak Arab Refinery’s employees when the lawyers for the petitioners asked the top judge to adjourn the hearing for 15 days.

“Cases seeking timely general elections and trial of civilians in military courts will be fixed soon. Difficult cases are about to come in the Supreme Court and it will be tough to schedule other cases [during this period],” the chief justice remarked.

Ambiguity over polls

The Shehbaz Sharif-led government dissolved the National Assembly on August 9, while Sindh and Balochistan assemblies were also prematurely dissolved to allow the electoral authority to hold elections in the country within 90 days.

Had the assemblies been dissolved on time, the electoral body was constitutionally bound to hold polls in 60 days.

However, the ECP decided against holding polls within the stipulated time as the Council of Common Interest (CCI), days before the dissolution of the assemblies, approved the 7th Population and Housing Census 2023.

The CCI approval made it mandatory for the commission to hold elections following fresh delimitations in light of the results of the census.

Subsequently, on August 17, the ECP announced the schedule of new delimitations to be carried out as per the new census approved by the CCI.

But in September, the commission announced that general elections in the country would take place in the last week of January 2024.

However, before the announcement, multiple petitions were filed in the Supreme Court against the delay in polls.

Among the petitioners are the Supreme Court Bar Association, Jamaat-e-Islami and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). All three petitioners have asked the apex court to ensure that polls are held within 90 days.

These petitions were filed during the tenure of former chief justice Umar Ata Bandial, however, they were not fixed for a hearing.

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