The Supreme Court of Pakistan has on Wednesday directed all relevant authorities to hold elections in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) within 90 days.
The decision was passed three-two in favour of the verdict by the five-member bench, with Justice Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail giving dissenting notes.
Reading out the verdict reserved on Tuesday evening, Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) should suggest a date for polls to President Arif Alvi.
“Elections must be held within 90 days of the dissolution of the assembly,” the verdict says, emphasizing that it was the constitutional responsibility of the Governor to announce an election date.
“Parliamentary democracy is a salient feature of the Constitution. There can be no parliamentary democracy without Parliament or the provincial assemblies. And there can be neither Parliament nor provincial assemblies without the holding of general elections as envisaged, required and mandated by and under the Constitution and in accordance therewith,” the top court remarked.
The court order stated, “In situations where the assembly is not dissolved by order of the governor, the constitutional responsibility of appointing a date for the general election that must follow is to be discharged by the president.”
“The Election Commission must proactively be available to the president or the governor, and be prepared for such consultation as required for a date for the holding of general elections,” the order said.
The court directed President Arif Alvi to announce the date of the Punjab election after consulting with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), and directed the KP governor to announce the date for polls in his province.
It further said that in ordinary circumstances, the general election in Punjab ought to be held on April 9 — the date given by the president — but because there were delays in the announcement of the poll date, it might not be possible for the province to meet the 90-day deadline.
“The Election Commission is therefore directed to use its utmost efforts to immediately propose, keeping in mind ss. 57 and 58 of the 2017 Act, date to the president that is compliant with the deadline. After consultation with the ECP, the President shall announce a date for holding the general election to the Punjab Assembly.”
Meanwhile, the SC directed the KP governor to appoint a date for elections in the province after consulting the ECP.
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