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.