A five-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC) has reserved its verdict and said that it would announce the verdict in the elections suo motu case tomorrow (Wednesday) at 11am.

The hearing of the case has been completed.

Last Wednesday, the top court took suo motu notice of the delay in holding elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.


SC orders PTI and govt to consult on elections dates themselves and inform court

Earlier, the apex court directed Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the coalition government to sit together and decide on a date for elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab by 4pm today (Tuesday).

In this regard, the top court directed Shireen Mazari and Fawad Chaudhry to consult with their party chairman, Imran Khan—who has been making appearances before various courts since Tuesday afternoon— and coalition partners’ lawyers to consult with their leaders and update the court.

The instructions were issued after a five-member bench resumed hearing the apex court’s suo motu proceedings regarding the delay in the provincial polls.

During the hearing on Tuesday, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial stated that none of the institutions, other than the court, had the authority to extend elections further than 90 days.

The CJP also said that the court wanted to wrap up the proceedings today. “Our entire work is on halt because of this case,” he added and adjourned the hearing.

The hearing has resumed again.

Bench toot gaya: Five judges resume SC hearing after four recuse themselves from suo motu

On February 27, SC resumed the hearing regarding election date suo motu notice.

The bench, which previously included nine SC judges, has been reconstituted to a five-member bench after four judges disassociated themselves. Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Yahya Afridi recused themselves from hearing the case.

A five-member bench has now started listening to the hearing of the case. Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial has said that the case has to be wrapped up by 9:30 tomorrow.

At the previous hearing, the coalition parties — Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Jamat-e-Ulema Islami-Fazl (JUI-F) — had presented a note in the apex court asking two SC judges, Justice Ahsan and Justice Naqvi, to recuse themselves from the case.

CJP Bandial said that four members of the bench have disassociated themselves from the bench. “The remaining bench, however, will continue hearing the case.

“We will continue the hearing for the interpretation of the Constitution because what the Constitution says depends on its interpretation,” he stated.

CJP Bandial also pointed out that the note of one of Justice Mandokhail had emerged on social media even before the verdict was released. “We will take precautions so that such an incident does not recur in the future.”

The CJP also addressed the issue of Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail’s objection note being leaked on social media, assuring that measures would be taken to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future.

He remarked that whatever written in the Constitution was conditional on the interpretation of it, noting that the case was critical and warranted swiftness.

Starting out his arguments, PTI’s counsel Barrister Ali Zafar said that the chief minister of Punjab sent a summary regarding dissolution of assembly to the governor.

However, he said that the governor did not comply to it following which the assembly automatically dissolved after 48 hours.

The counsel argued that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had requested the date of polls from the governor, who refused, citing that he was not the one who dissolved the assembly.

Zafar said that President Arif Alvi summoned chief election commissioner for finalizing the date for polls however he did not show up.

Following this, the lawyer said that the president unilaterally announced the dates for elections in both provinces.

He emphasized that the Constitution clearly stipulated that elections could not exceed 90 days after the dissolution of the assembly.

Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar remarked that there was a difference between automatic dissolution of assembly and that performed by the governor.

Barrister Zafar commented that there was a need for someone to intervene in matters of public interest and therefore, the president announced the date.

In response, Justice Mandokhail asked whether the president unilaterally announced the election date or if he was instructed by someone else.

The counsel clarified that the president had provided details regarding the election date in his letter. Additionally, Zafar highlighted that the president had sent two letters to the election commission, with the first one dated February 8 requesting the announcement of the election date.

He added that the main issue at hand was related to the announcement of the election date, which nobody seemed to be prepared for.

The chief justice then asked if the ECP had responded to the president’s first letter, to which the counsel replied in the negative.

During the hearing, PPP’s lawyer Farooq H Naek highlighted that they had filed a petition for the formation of a full court.

The chief justice responded by stating that they would decide on the matter after hearing the counsel’s arguments.

Barrister Zafar maintained that the elections could not be delayed for ten years. The court inquired about the progress in KP and asked if the governor could write a letter seeking consultation on the election date citing terrorism.

The lawyer responded by stating that, according to him, the governor does not possess such authority.

Justice Mazhar asked if the elections could be delayed due to terrorism, to which Justice Ali remarked that the decision on whether the polls would occur could only be taken when a date was fixed for the electoral exercise.

Justice Mazhar then stated that the entire month was wasted on consultations.

Justice Mandokhail inquired if the law and order situation could hamper the organization of the election, to which the CJP responded by reminding everyone that the assemblies in 2013 and 2018 completed their five-year terms.

The DG Law added that the president could only fix the date for the polls once the assemblies completed their term.

Justice Munib Akhtar remarked that the advice of the chief minister was implemented in KP but not in Punjab.

The CJP stated that holding elections was the ECP’s job, while Barrister Zafar pointed out that Articles 218, 219, and 222 of the Constitution declared the election commission responsible for holding elections.

Justice Mandokhail asked who was responsible for announcing the election date, to which Barrister Zafar said that the same question was before the court.

He went on to say that the ECP gets the right to announce the date if Articles 218 and 219 were read jointly.

The hearing was adjourned for a short break and set to resume at 4pm.