Verdict likely today on PTI’s plea seeking date for Punjab elections
- ECP’s lawyer contends body not liable to give election date.
- Governor tells court that he did not dissolve assembly so he cannot give date.
- PTI lawyer says president willing to give date for polls.
LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday reserved its verdict on a plea filed by a citizen and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) seeking a date for general elections in Punjab.
The court is expected to announce the verdict later today.
During today’s hearing, Inspector General of Punjab Police, Dr Usman Anwar and the chief secretary appeared before the court.
Punjab’s top cop and bureaucrat assured the court that they will follow whatever the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) decides. The chief secretary also said that they would follow through on the court’s order.
Meanwhile, when the ECP’s lawyer, came to the rostrum, he said that the only issue before the court was who would give the date for the polls. He added that there was talk of a provision in the law allowing the ECP and the president to give a date for the elections.
The lawyer objected to that stance, saying the ECP and the president were not the parties in the case.
“The court cannot issue orders to those who are not made the party in the case,” said the lawyer.
At this, the PTI’s lawyer Barrister Ali Zafar said that they made the Election Commission a party to the case by amending the petition. Upon hearing this, the ECP lawyer said that the president was yet to be made party to the case.
“Your objection is that ECP is not a party [in the case],” asked Justice Jawad Hassan.
The counsel told the court that the commission was not a party in giving a date for the elections. He also asked the LHC to show the law which states that the ECP is liable to give a date for the general election.
“The court itself said that they do not want to issue a verdict which cannot be implemented,” reminded the ECP lawyer. He added that implementing Article 220 was not the electoral body’s job.
“How my client can conduct the polls if it is not being provided with funds?” He also told the court that the ECP requires complete support from the federal government.
“I have objections to the acceptance of this plea. In the law, election date can be delayed,” said the lawyer. He reiterated that there is no law which states that the ECP is bound to give a date for the elections.
Governor asks LHC to reject plea
On the other hand, Governor Baligh ur Rehman’s lawyer Shahzad Shaukat said that allegations have been made against his client in all the petitions.
Shaukat contended that if the governor had dissolved the assembly then he would have been asked to announce the date. He also urged the court to reject the petition for being ineffective.
When the governor’s lawyer pushed the court that the governor was not bound to give a date for the polls, Justice Hassan asked if it was not clear in the Constitution then can the president be asked to give a date for the elections.
“Read Article 48, the president has the same role as the governor,” responded Shaukat.
President willing to give election date
PTI’s counsel Barrister Ali Zafar, while responding to the governor’s lawyer, told the court that the chief secretary and IG had assured the court of performing their duties.
Zafar also contended that the president could give a date for the elections, adding that the question of not giving an election date cannot be left unaddressed.
“Governor, president, and Election Commission can give a date for the polls via a notification. Silence cannot be maintained on this,” said Barrister Ali Zafar. He added that the president has not said no and if the court directs then he will follow orders.
Supreme Court seeks govt assurance on lowering ‘political temperature’
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked for the government’s assurance it would take steps to lower the feverish political temperature in the country, before adjourning the hearing of the PTI petition in the election delay case till tomorrow (Thursday).
During today’s hearing, the five-member larger bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, hotly debated whether the court’s March 1 order was given with a 4-3 majority or 3-2.
The confusion emerged after the SC resumed the hearing of the election delay case today, a day after a hard-hitting resolution was passed by the National Assembly holding “undue interference by the judiciary in political matters as a cause of political instability in the country”.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has filed a petition against the ECP’s March 22 order postponing the elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa citing multiple reasons.
The bench comprised Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Amin-Ud-Din Khan and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail as members.
At the outset of the hearing, Justice Mandokhail clarified his remarks from the previous hearing, saying that it had caused “great confusion”.
“I stand by my detailed order,” the justice said, explaining that one part of the judgment was about the administrative powers.
He said that the CJP would be asked to form a judges’ committee to look into the rules of administrative powers.
Yesterday, he had remarked that the number of judges who favoured the March 1 ruling was an internal matter of the apex court.
“In the second part of the verdict, four of us judges rejected the suo motu notice and pleas,” he said, adding that the judgement by the four judges was the order of the court.
He, however, stated that this order was not issued by CJP Bandial.
“How did the president give a date when there wasn’t a verdict, how did the election commission issue the schedule,” he asked.
“An order of the court is signed by all the judges,” Justice Mandokhail declared.
After this, the lawyers of the ruling alliance proceeded to the rostrum.
Senior lawyer Farooq H Naek requested the court to form a full court for the clarification of the March 1 judgement.
“It is necessary to [fulfil] the requirements of justice that it is decided that whether it was a 3-2 or 4-3 split verdict,” Naek maintained. He said that the entire country’s fate depended on the matter as the nation is stuck in a dilemma.
At this, CJP Bandial directed the lawyer to submit his request in writing and warned against spoiling the court’s environment.
“[We] will decide this matter when there is a petition,” the chief justice said while announcing that the court will hear ECP’s arguments first.
ECP’s counsel Sajeel Swati asked how the commission could issue an election schedule when it did not receive the order of the court.
“A Supreme Court order is the order of the court, which wasn’t even issued,” he said. He also asked if the ECP had seen the brief order.
At this, the lawyer maintained that they might have made a mistake in understanding the judgement.
Meanwhile, Justice Akhtar inquired if the brief verdict stated it was a 4-3 split verdict. He said that the March 1 judgement does not state anywhere that it is a 4-3 split verdict.
“Having a difference of opinion is the right of the judge but the minority of judges cannot claim to be inclusive of the majority under any law,” Justice Akhtar observed.
He further stated that five judges heard the case in an open court and signed the order after issuing the verdict.
At this point, Justice Mandokhail interjected that the brief verdict stated that the judges gave their dissenting notes.
“The dissenting note clearly stated that [we] agree to the decision of Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Athar Minallah. Did their decision disappear into thin air,” he asked.
At this, CJP Bandial interjected that matters related to the chambers should be left where they belong and said that Attorney General of Pakistan Mansoor Usman Awan would give his arguments on the matter.
However, Justice Mandokhail asked what the ECP’s stance on the detailed verdict was.
The lawyer informed the court that he had not taken the electoral body’s directive over the 4-3 split verdict.
The lawyer further maintained that the electoral body started implementation on the court’s order as per its understanding and suggested the date as per Section 57 of the Election Act after it was received on March 3.
When asked about the time of ECP’s order to postpone polls, the lawyer said that it was issued on the evening of March 22, by the time all the work related to scheduling and nomination papers had been wrapped up.
The ECP’s legal representative highlighted the security concerns in the country and informed the court about the army’s refusal to provide security during the polls and the agencies’ reports on terrorist threats in KP.
As CJP Bandial inquired if the election commission had informed the president about these issues, Swati said that they had.
“Reports about terrorism in KP are serious,” the CJP remarked.
At this, Justice Akhtar remarked that the ECP was relying on the letters of February 8 while the apex court announced the decision on March 8
“In February, you knew that you had to conduct elections in October. Then why was the date of April 30 suggested to the president?” he asked.
At this, the ECP’s lawyer maintained that he had referred to the intelligence agencies’ reports as a background but the decision to defer the polls was taken on March 22.
He further informed the court that the Finance Ministry told the ECP that they can’t issue funds for polls in the current fiscal year. Moreover, ECP was told that the Punjab Police lacked 297,000 security personnel needed for the polls.
‘Under any circumstances’
Moving on, Justice Bandial remarked that the elections had to be conducted in 2023 under any circumstances, and asked why funds hadn’t been reserved for it in the annual budget.
At this, the AGP maintained that the budget for the polls had to be reserved for the next fiscal year. He added that they did not take into account the early dissolution of assemblies.
Upon the CJP’s inquiry, the AGP said that Rs47 billion will be spent if the elections are held altogether in the entire country and Rs20 billion will be spent extra if the provincial elections are held early.
The ECP’s lawyer also reiterated the security threats faced by public and political leaders due to rising terror attacks.
“The information you are giving is of serious nature. Didn’t you bring all of this in the president’s notice,” CJP Bandial asked. It was ECP’s fault if the president hadn’t been informed of this because the president gave the election date with the commission’s advice, he added.
Moreover, the ECP’s lawyer informed the apex court that the operations in Punjab’s kaccha (riverine) area would take six months to complete.
CJP Bandial acceded that the issue of terrorism was genuine. However, he pointed out that the issue was not new.
“Polls had been conducted thrice in the 90s when sectarianism and terrorism were at their peak,” he said.
He observed that the ECP suggested the dates without stating these facts to the president.
Besides, Justice Akhtar inquired if the ECP would organise the polls if the institutions provide assistance to it.
“Apparently, the ECP’s entire case was based on the letters [threat alerts], while non-availability of the funds is also an issue,” he observed.
After this, the court adjourned the hearing for a while.
Once the hearing resumed after the break, the ECP lawyer informed the bench that the new date — October 8 — was not temporary. He further added that the security agencies feared that if elections are held in some areas, terrorists would target those specific areas.
“The security agencies have said that arrangements will be completed by the date (October 8),” said the ECP lawyer.
On this point, Justice Akhtar remarked that it’s the ECP’s responsibility to carry out elections. He added that if the ECP had any issues it should have come to the court.
“The election commission should clarify why it differed the polls by six months,” said justice Akhtar.
While Justice Mandokhail observed that the ECP’s authority to conduct elections starts when an election date is set.
On this, the ECP lawyer responded that if the date is fixed, the ECP has the authority to extend it.
However, Justice Ahsan remarked that the ECP can change the election programme but not the date of the polls.
“Is Section 58 of the Election Act above the constitution?” asked the judge.
On the other hand, CJP Bandial agreed with Justice Akhtar that the ECP should have contacted the apex court, and asked the lawyer to convince the bench by today.
“Is October 8 a magical date that guarantees that everything will be alright?” asked the CJP, wondering why the election date could not be September 8 or August 8.
On being probed by the bench on the election date was set for April when the commission was already aware that it would not be possible, the ECP’s counsel said that they had been unaware of the sensitivity of the matter.
Justice Amin-Ud-Din Khan then chided the commission’s counsel, saying that the president had not been apprised of the matter, even though it was the ECP’s duty to do so
The chief justice further pointed out that the new election schedule had not been announced.
In response, the ECP’s counsel argued that the law not only guaranteed free and fair elections but also guaranteed protection of life.
“The court can annul the ECP’s order only if it is unconstitutional and based on malice,” he argued.
On being asked if the petitioner had raised the point of malice, ECP’s counsel Sajeel said it was not.
Justice Munib reiterated the responsibility of the ECP in holding fair and timely elections. He further inquired if the ECP would withdraw from its responsibility of holding elections if all the assemblies were dissolved.
The ECP counsel said that were the funds and security to be arranged for, the elections could be held on April 30.
“In 1988, elections were delayed by the order of the court. In 2008, the situation was such that no one objected to postponing the elections, we pray that the incident of 2008 is not repeated, he said.
The ECP counsel then stressed that Article 218-3 of the Constitution underscored the importance of transparent and fair elections.
On the CJP’s remarks that minor disputes are only to be expected, the ECP’s advocate said that the election organising authority feared violence may break out.
The CJP then turned his attention to another topic.
“Overseas Pakistanis demand the right to vote, while the Supreme Court’s order is also available, yet the commission has done nothing about it,” he commented.
The CJP then inquired of the government whether the six-month period could be reduced?
At this, the argument of the ECP lawyer was concluded.
Registrar office accepts ruling alliance’s pleas
Earlier, the SC Registrar’s Office accepted the separate pleas of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) to become parties in the case.
The coalition government had decided to become a party in the case a day earlier.
The members of the ruling alliance had filed the pleas in the SC to become a party and will present their stance when the hearing resumes.
PM Shehbaz directs redressal of MQM-P reservations over census
- Party shares concerns about ongoing census.
- It also informs premier about Karachi’s issues.
- MQM-P has demanded fresh, impartial census.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Wednesday issued directives to relevant authorities to resolve the concerns and issues of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) over the ongoing census.
In a statement released by the PM Office, the development came during a meeting between the premier and MQM-P delegation — comprising Convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and Information Technology and Telecommunication Minister Syed Aminul Haque — while Minister for Economic Affairs Sardar Ayaz Sadiq was also present.
During the meeting, the MQM-P delegation congratulated the prime minister for the legislation of the Supreme Court (Practice and Procedure) Bill, 2023, the statement read.
The delegation shared their reservations with the prime minister regarding the ongoing digital census in Pakistan and also informed him about the issues in Karachi.
A day earlier, MQM-P senior leader Farooq Sattar rejected the ongoing first-ever digital census — which is the seventh national census in the country — being conducted by the Sindh government employees.
The party’s decision came days after Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) chief statistician Dr Naeem Uz Zafar said that “it is not necessary that Karachi’s population will show as 30 million” after the census.
Sattar expressed fears that a plan has been devised to show less population than the actual headcount of Sindh’s urban areas.
“46% of the population in Karachi has been counted,” he said, adding that it seemed that the total population of the metropolis would be shown around 20 million in the census.
The MQM-P leader also demanded a fresh census conducted by an impartial and private sector company. He also asked for access to the census data.
According to PBS chief statistician, about 60% of Pakistan has been enumerated in the ongoing country’s seventh population and house count.
This is the first time the country’s population is being counted digitally. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and MQM-P have time and again raised concerns over the population count in the port city.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, a part of the incumbent government himself, had threatened to quit the ruling alliance and said that Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah had grave concerns over the ongoing census.
Judge threatening case: Imran Khan’s non-bailable arrest warrant issued
ISLAMABAD: An Islamabad court on Wednesday issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in the judge-threatening case.
Civil judge Malik Aman announced the verdict rejecting former premier Imran Khan’s petition seeking exemption from today’s hearing.
The court also directed the PTI chief to appear before it on April 18.
During the hearing, Khan’s lawyers requested to retain his bailable arrest warrant as he was facing security threats.
“Imran Khan has security concerns, his life is in danger, the Islamabad High Court has also issued notices for withdrawing security from him,” the PTI chief’s counsel said.
At this, the judge said that no one has appeared on behalf of the prosecution yet, let’s see what they have to say.
Later, the court adjourned the hearing of the case till 11am.
After the break, Prosecutor Raja Rizwan Abbasi appeared in Civil Judge Malik Aman’s court and opposed Imran Khan’s plea for exemption from today’s appearance.
The prosecutor said that Khan is absent and the bailable warrant should be changed to non-bailable.
“Even the plea is not signed by him.”
After the arguments were completed by both parties on the plea, the court reserved the verdict which was announced later.
The charges, in this case, are related to a speech by Khan in which he allegedly threatened police and a female judge last year after one of his close aides, Shahbaz Gill, was denied bail in a sedition case.
The cricket star turned politician has faced a barrage of legal woes since his ouster in a confidence vote in April last year by a united opposition led by his successor, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
A convicted politician is liable to be disqualified for at least five years under the laws of the land.
Supreme Court seeks govt assurance on lowering ‘political temperature’
PM Shehbaz directs redressal of MQM-P reservations over census
Record number of emigrants registered for overseas employment in 2022
Barwaan Khiladi: Kinza Hashmi discusses her role as Alia
WATCH: Pakistani traveller deported from Dubai for damaging plane mid-air
Snap launches tools for parents to monitor teens’ contacts
Learn First | How to Create Amazon Seller Account in Pakistan – Step by Step
Sajjad Jani Funny Mushaira | Funny Poetry On Cars🚗 | Funny Videos | Sajjad Jani Official Team
Pakistan Reaction On Huge Win Against India | Pakistani Celebs Celebrate World T20 Cricket
Business2 days ago
Govt making all-out efforts to put economy on path of sustainable growth: Dar
Tech2 days ago
AI can potentially diagnose and treat cancers: study
Pakistan2 days ago
Weather update: Karachi to witness rain on March 29-30
Tech2 days ago
Numerous mobile applications at risk of cyberattacks: study
Business2 days ago
Prices of food items skyrocket amid Ramadan
Politics2 days ago
IHC grants Imran Khan interim bail in seven cases
Pakistan2 days ago
Supreme Court sends notice to ECP over delay in Punjab polls
Business7 hours ago
Petrol, diesel prices likely to go down from April 1