President can announce poll date: CJP

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Election suo motu
I believe when it comes to Punjab, president was right to issue election date: Justice Muneeb
ISLAMABAD
The Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial gave observation that the governor does not need any summary for the election date and caretaker government, adding that the Parliament has clearly written in the Election Act that the President can also give the date.
The Supreme Court full bench started hearing after the adjournment of the hearing the constitutional petition filed by the speaker of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) assemblies to challenge the failure of the Governors of both the respective provinces to announce the date of holding by-elections on Monday and raised some valuable questions regarding giving a date for elections while the Speaker’s Barrister Ali Zafar and the ECP’s lawyer help out the court to find the answers to such questions.
The CJP said the Election Commission of Pakistan asked the High Court to provide staff to conduct elections but they have not given it. He added that the Election Commission also asked for the budget, which means that the preparations for elections were being continued.
The ECP’s lawyer told the court that the Commission needs 52 days for a complete process of the election and for this reason, it had suggested the dates to the Governor.
Justice Mansoor asked the petitioner’s lawyer if there is a curfew or flood, can the date of elections be extended who replied that according to the Election Act, the ECP can extend the election time in certain constituencies. Justice Mansoor further asked that even if the governor gives the date of the elections, natural calamities can happen. If there is a war or curfew in the country, how will the elections be held? Justice Mansoor added.
On this, Speaker’s lawyer Ali Zafar said floods and natural disasters are mentioned in the law but not the war, and in such a situation, only an emergency can be imposed for it. Justice Mansoor Ali Shah said the laws empower the governor to announce the date of the elections.
Justice Munib Akhtar said the constitution itself says that it is the responsibility of the governor to give the date of the elections, KP Governor dissolved the assembly so the date of elections should also have been announced by him.
Justice Munib added that in the Act, the President was empowered to give the date of the elections as the Assembly amended and empowered the President and the Governor to give the date. On this, Justice Jamal Mandukhel raised the question that if both the President and the Governor give the date, whose action will be correct?
Barrister Ali Zafar told the bench that if the provincial assembly is dissolved, the governor’s date will be corrected. Justice Munib said if the governor dissolves the assembly and does not give a date, the court can order.
During the hearing, the bench member also raised the issue of the budget for the election as Justice Jamal Mandukhel said if the ECP is ready for elections and there is no money, then what will happen?
On this question raised by Justice Mandukhel, Justice Munib said it is surprising that there is money for cricket matches in the whole country but not for elections. Justice Mansoor raised the question that if the Governor does not give the date, can the Election Commission conduct elections by itself?
Replying to it, Ali Zafar said the Election Commission is a constitutional institution, it should have the authority to conduct elections by itself. The CJP gave an observation that the Parliament has clearly written in the Election Act that the President can also give the date.
Later, the CJP adjourned the hearing till Tuesday at 9:30 am and said they want to finish the case tomorrow. During the pre-recess hearing of the Speakers’ Petition, Supreme Court judge Justice Muneeb Akhtar said the Chief Minister’s advice was implemented in KP but not in Punjab.
According to the media, the petitioner’s lawyer Ali Zafar argued in the court that Articles 218, 219 and 222 of the Constitution of Pakistan give the responsibility of holding elections to the Election Commission.
Barrister Ali Zafar further said that all executive institutes of the state are bound to cooperate with the Election Commission for conducting elections. He also added that if the Election Commission shows helplessness in this matter, the court should take action.
A written order was issued on the SC’s website in which dissenting notes of Justice Afridi, Justice Minallah, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah had been included.
Following this, a five-member bench headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Shah and Justice Mandokhail was formed which presided over today’s hearing.
The newly-formed bench — after the counsel of speakers from both provinces, Barrister Ali Zafar concluded his arguments — adjourned the hearing of the case till 9:30am tomorrow. — DNA