Courts can't transgress ECP jurisdiction: LHC

LAHORE - The Lahore High Court has observed that Election Commission Pakistan (ECP) is an esteemed constitutional institution and courts cannot transgress its powers, as it will set a bad example. The two-member bench comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan passed these remarks while hearing the appeals against the single benchs order about postponement of by-elections in Punjab. Justice Bandial further said it was courts constitutional obligation to protect national institutions. The hearing has been adjourned for today (Thursday) as the Punjab govt counsel Khawaja Haris was presenting his arguments. He said the provincial govt could not give a date for polls because law and order situation was so uncertain that it was confronting new challenges with each passing day. He opined that the ECP should consult all stakeholders including federal government which also possessed certain secrete information about the threats to public places and political personalities. A single bench comprising Justice Mian Saqib Nisar on October 9 had accepted the plea to postpone by-elections on the ground that ECP had not afforded opportunity of hearing to the provincial government. Muhammad Azhar Siddique Advocate, a candidate for NA-123, and President Awami Muslim League (AML) Sheikh Rashid (NA-55) have filed intra court appeals against the verdict. Their counsels argued that the Punjab government was not competent to file constitutional petition because it was not an aggrieved party under article 199. None of its right has been infringed that is pre-requisite to invoke the LHC constitutional jurisdiction under the said article, they state. They said the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) had heard the provincial government after giving it ample opportunity. They are stressing the fact that the people of said constituencies couldnt be deprived of selecting their representatives for an unlimited period, adding that it is a duty of the government to maintain law and order and to abide by the CEC directives. They prayed the court to set aside the single bench orders and direct the CEC to hold the elections in the said constituencies. Menawhile, after the hearing Sheikh Rashid Ahmed while talking to media said the government was preparing a charge sheet against itself by using delaying tactics in holding the by-election. About current political scenario, Sheikh said November and December would be critical months for the government.

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