SC verdict’s Key Points:
- SC declares ECP March 22 verdict as unlawful
- SC directs federal govt to provide Rs21b funds, security plan for elections
- ECP directed to submit report on funds on April 11
- April 10 fixed for submission of nomination papers
- Top court to decide yet the fate of KP elections
Islamabad: The Supreme Court of Pakistan (SC) on Tuesday set aside the decision of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in which the Punjab elections were postponed till October 8, holding that the commission did not have such powers.
“The Election Commission exceeded its powers by setting the date of Oct 8 for elections in Punjab,” said the Supreme Court three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial. Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Muneeb Akhtar were the other members of the bench.
The top court held that 13 days gone wasted due to the unlawful decision of the ECP, and set May 14 as the date to hold general elections. It ruled that the nomination papers could be submitted till April 10.
The bench directed the federal government to provide Rs21b to the ECP for elections and directed it to also provide security plan.
The bench held that the Election Tribunal would decide the appeals on April 17 while the electoral symbols would be issued on April 20. The bench ordered the ECP to submit reports regarding the funds for elections on April 11, so it could order the authorities concerned, if the funds were not released.
The minority verdict on March 1, it held, did not have any effect, and directed the authorities concerned to ensure free and fair elections in Punjab and KPK.
The apex court also directed the Punjab interim government to provide complete assistance to the ECP in holding elections.
However, the matter of the KPK elections was still pending before the Supreme Court as the lawyer who was representing the KPK governor said he did not want to represent him.
Earlier in the day, Secretary Defense submitted a report before the apex court in sealed envelop and informed it about the security situation
A day before, CJP Bandial while hearing the election case asked that how the government was confident that the situation would be fine on Oct 8 would—the date set for elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakthunkhwa by the Election Commission of Pakistan.
“Who will provide security for the elections?,” asked the CJP while hearing the case related to delay in the elections of Punjab and Khyber Pakthunkhwa. Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Muneeb Akhtar were the other members of the bench.
Barrister Ali Zafar, the counsel for the PTI , said that there were many other forces which could provide security for the elections. Barrister Zafar said that the ECP had already said that they were ready to conduct elections if they were provided security and funds.
The CJP asked about the Secretary Finance and Secretary Defense. On it, the AGP said that both officers were present there.
“Did you come up with the files on the security?,” asked the CJP while addressing the Secretary Defense. The AGP told the court that there were sealed reports of both Finance and Defense and he asked the top court to hold in-camera proceedings.
The CJP asked the Secretary Defense about the overall security situation, and especially about the situation in Punjab.
SC seeks written assurance from PPP, PML-N lawyers after PDM’s declaration:
On Monday, the CJP remarked that he came to know through the media reports that the coalition government expressed lack of confidence in the bench.
At this, Farooq H. Naek, the counsel for the PPP, came to the rostrum and said that they wanted to become the party.
At this, the CJP remarked, “Do you want to become part of the proceedings?” asked the CJP, observing that “on one side, there is a lack of confidence in the three-member bench, and on the other side, they want to become part of the bench,”.
“If you have not boycotted then the come up with the written reply,” remarked the CJP.
When the bench asked the AGP if the government also boycotted the court proceedings to which the AGP said that, “the government cannot boycott the court hearing,”.
During the hearing, the arguments involve dthe verdict of Qazi Faez Isa, the circular issued by the registrar office, the verdict of March 1st and the hearing of nine-member bench held on February 27.
Govt files plea in SC to form full court:
The Federal government filed a fresh petition in the Supreme Court, pleading it to reconstitute the bench for hearing of the elections delay case.
Attorney General for Pakistan Mansoor Usman Awan filed the petition on behalf of the federal government and asked it to reject the election delay case keeping in view the verdict of March 1 which was the majority (4-3) verdict.
PDM says no trust on SC three-member bench:
The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), which is the ruling coalition, on Saturday announced boycott of the Supreme Court three-member bench seized with the hearing of the petitions challenging delay in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa elections.
The coalition partners expressed their lack of confidence in the three-member bench of the Supreme Court that is headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial.
The apex court bench was hearing petitions challenging the delay in the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa elections.
The larger bench, it said, had already issued its verdict and now the three-member bench wanted to impose its minority verdict on the majority.
The PDM said that it was the matter of the Election Commission of Pakistan and the three-member bench should get away from the bench.