Supreme Court disposes of ECP’s review petition against Punjab election order
CJP remarks Constitution is nobody's property and court will intervene whenever there is a violation
By News Desk
August 31, 2023 11:49 AM
The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday disposed of a review petition filed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) against the apex court’s order to hold elections in Punjab on May 14, 2023, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.
“The Supreme Court will take action whenever the Constitution is violated,” Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Atta Bandial remarked during the hearing of the case.
“The Election Act has been amended. After the amendment, the ECP can now give the date of the elections,” ECP lawyer Sajeel Swati said while presenting his arguments before the Supreme Court three-judge bench comprising CJP Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Muneeb Akhtar.
“The most important question was the authority to give the date of elections. After amendments to Sections 57 and 58, the ECP has the authority to give the date of elections,” the ECP lawyer added.
“You must keep in mind that this is a review case. The main case was separate,” Justice Muneeb Akhtar said to the ECP lawyer.
“Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court’s detailed verdict regarding Punjab elections was received. In the light of the Supreme Court’s decision, we want to submit some additional documents,” the ECP lawyer told the court.
“You read your answer right now in the court,” the CJP said to the ECP lawyer.
“We have heard the ECP lawyer. Thanks to all the people in the courtroom. Whenever there is a constitutional violation, the Supreme Court will intervene,” he remarked.
“Constitution is nobody’s property. No one can deviate from or negate the Constitution. If there is difficulty in implementing the Constitution, a court should be approached,” Justice Muneeb Akhtar said.
“It was asked several times whether the ECP will conduct elections or not if it is given funds and security for the Punjab elections,” he added.
“The ECP said it can hold elections if funds and security are provided,” he stated.
It is worth mentioning here that the Supreme Court had ordered the ECP to hold elections in Punjab on May 14, 2023. The ECP, however, expressed its inability to hold elections due to the lack of requisite funds and security and filed a review petition in the Supreme Court.
In a unanimous verdict on April 4 last, the Supreme Court bench had quashed the electoral body’s decision to extend the date for polls in the province from April 10 to Oct 8 and fixed May 14 as the new date. It had also directed the government to release Rs21 billion for the elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and provide a security plan to the ECP regarding the polls. Moreover, the court had instructed relevant authorities to keep it in the loop.
However, in reports submitted to the apex court in subsequent days, the ECP had said the then ruling coalition was reluctant in releasing the funds.
It had contended that staggering polls by holding them in Punjab and KP separately, before elsewhere, was not feasible since it would incur significantly more expenses compared to holding the exercise on one day. It had further said that an already depleted security apparatus would require weeks in advance for its mobilization.
On May 3, with fewer than two weeks to the May 14 election date ordered by the court, the ECP had filed its plea seeking a review of the court’s April 4 order.
Reporter: Amanat Gishkori