Fixing elections date not your mandate, ECP ‘respectfully’ tells top court

Files review petition against SC decision to hold polls in Punjab on May 14 n PTI urges SC to get its verdict implemented

ISLAMABAD    -   Election Commis­sion of Pakistan (ECP) Wednesday pointed out ‘intervention in its mat­ters’ and asked the Su­preme Court to review its directives regarding the holding of elections for the Punjab Assem­bly on May 14. 

The 14-page petition filed in the top court urged the court to re­view its decision stat­ing that the judiciary “doesn’t have the au­thority to give the date of elections.”

The petition was filed hours after the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) said that it would sub­mit a detailed report of talks between the par­ty leaders and the rul­ing alliance, urging the apex court to imple­ment its verdict in Pun­jab polls case.

“it is most respectful­ly prayed that this Au­gust Court may gra­ciously accept the instant Review Petition by revisiting, review­ing, reconsidering and recalling its Impugned Order/Judgment dated 04.04.2023, in the in­terest of justice and eq­uity,” the petition read.

The petition high­lighted that superi­or courts of the coun­try have been granted a special power under Article 199 and Article 184(3) of the Consti­tution to judicially re­view actions/decisions of the public bodies.

“The superior courts can define the contours within which the power (which vests in the public bod­ies) is or is to be exercised. At no instance, can the superior courts take upon themselves the role of the public body,” the petition read.

The electoral body reiterat­ed that the appointing of the date for the election is “not the mandate of superior courts under the Constitution.” “Such powers exist elsewhere under the Constitution but certainly not lie in a Court of law,” the ECP said, citing various legal­ities and reasons behind its statement.

The electoral body accused the Supreme Court of disre­garding its constitutional ju­risdiction, emphasising that it assumed upon itself the role of a public body in giving a date; “thus intervention by the Court is necessitated to correct an error which has effective­ly changed the settled consti­tutional jurisprudence of the country.”

The ECP, in its petition, claimed that the august court has overlooked material ques­tions of the Constitution and law, which have material bear­ing on the decision. “The errors of law are floating on the face of the record and are manifest and clear that these may not be allowed to remain as such,” the ECP wrote.

It further wrote: “The peti­tion craves the kind indulgence of this august court to allow the petitioner to raise and agitate further grounds once the de­tailed reasoning for the order under review is released.”

A day after both the ruling coalition and Pakistan Teh­reek-e-Insaf (PTI) failed to reach an agreement on holding gener­al elections across the country on same day, the PTI party ap­proached the Supreme Court (of Pakistan seeking to implement its judgment, in letter and spir­it, on holding of polls in Punjab on May 14.

The PTI on Wednesday sub­mitted a constitutional petition in the apex court on behalf of its negotiation team, praying that the SC should execute its judg­ment of April 4 to hold polls of the Punjab Assembly so that the Constitution is upheld and does not stand violated.

It was stated that the SC in its order had suggested that the political parties may meet together and hold a dialogue to determine the way forward for holding of elections to all the assemblies simultaneous­ly in accordance with the Con­stitution.

PTI in accordance with its commitment made before the top court constituted a three members committee compris­ing PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi, PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry, and part Senator Ali Zafar, the petition reads.

The coalition government’s negotiating team had mem­bers from almost all parties except Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F). The committee in­cluded Finance Minister Ish­aq Dar, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Yousuf Raza Gi­lani, Railways Minister Kha­waja Saad Rafique and Com­merce Minister Naveed Qamar, among others.

It was stated in the petition that members of both the ne­gotiating teams deliberated and held a dialogue with full sincer­ity on April 27, 28 and May 02 during which they arrived at a certain consensus.

They were unanimous on the point that dialogue between po­litical parties was important and the solution to all political questions ultimately lied with the political parties.

They also agreed that both the teams would endeavor to hold talks with full sinceri­ty and try to arrive at a solu­tion, which is in the best inter­est of the people, Pakistan and in accordance with law and the Constitution.

Similarly, the negotiating teams agreed that this dialogue would not be used as a delay­ing tactic and has no bearing on SC’s April 4 judgment until and unless an agreement with­in the confines of the Constitu­tion is arrived at between the parties and such agreement is implemented.

It was stated that PTI initially was of the opinion that the elec­tions to the assemblies have to be held within 90 days and that the SC has already determined that the Constitutional time­frame for holding elections to the Punjab Assembly on May 14 and there is no scope for chang­ing this date by ordinary con­sent of the parties.

During the talks, PTI stressed that the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)-led ruling al­liance should abide by the con­stitutional provisions and the orders of the SC and hold the elections in Punjab on the giv­en date, besides holding polls to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly forthwith.

However, it was stated that the government team argued that the elections to the Na­tional Assembly and all provin­cial assemblies should be held on the same date in October af­ter dissolution of lower house of the parliament and the as­semblies of Sindh and Baloch­istan upon completion of their terms in second week of Au­gust this year.

After full deliberations, PTI gave a proposal to the gov­ernment team that the PTI was willing to hold the elec­tions to the National Assem­bly and all provincial assem­blies on the same date if NA and two provincial assem­blies should be dissolved on or before May 14.

It was suggested that the elec­tions to the NA as well as all provincial assemblies be held together within 60 days of the dissolution of the national and provincial assemblies in the second week of July, 2023.

It was proposed that in order to give a constitutional cover to the holding of the elections in Punjab and KP beyond the period of 90 days, PTI MNAs would rejoin the NA and a one-time constitutional amend­ment validating the delay in elections shall be carried out by mutual consent of the polit­ical parties.

Moreover, the PTI team sug­gested that all the parties would agree that the election results shall be accepted and an agreement in writing would be submitted before the top court to ensure the implemen­tation of the agreement in let­ter and spirit. 

PTI contended in the petition that PDM alliance did not agree to this proposal and proposed that the dissolution of the NA and Sindh and Balochistan as­semblies shall take place on July 30, 2023 and elections across the country be held in 90 days – the first week of October.

It was stated that there was also a lack of consensus be­tween the parties in relation to the process for the imple­mentation of the agreement through the constitutional amendment.

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