Provincial Elections

The fate of Punjab elections still hangs in the balance as on Friday, the Supreme Court rejected a request by Attorney General Pakistan Mansoor Awan for the formation of a full court as it continued hearing the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) petition against the delay in the Punjab Assembly polls. The ongoing political crisis has also exposed fractures within the judiciary, and it remains to be seen whether the court will be able to resolve this constitutional crisis in a manner that is satisfactory to all concerned stakeholders.
The court continued its proceedings after two judges recused themselves from the five-member bench. The recusal of Justice Mandokhail, which came a day after Justice Aminuddin Khan took the apex court by surprise and has understandably raised calls from the government to constitute a full court to hear the case. This development has made the situation all the more contentious, but the CJP is adamant that neither the law nor the rules demand the composition of the full court, and including additional judges who are not briefed on the matter will only further delay the proceedings.
However, given how sensitive this issue is, perhaps the case does demand a full court to ensure that the verdict is acceptable to all and does not trigger further controversy. The government should also refrain from politicising the institution as public sentiment is overly charged at this point in time. The whole nation is looking towards the Supreme Court for the resolution of this issue and it is imperative that it is disposed of swiftly and in a manner that evades any further controversy.
These developments also highlight the need to review the powers and role of the judiciary but given the confrontational situation that is precipitating at this point in time, the debates taking place in the National Assembly regarding suo motu powers and the formation of benches may not go down too well because of the timing.

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