SC directs to hold elections in Punjab, KP in 90 days

The Supreme Court gives directives with three to two split decisions.

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The Supreme Court of Pakistan has ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan to hold elections in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa within 90 days.

On Wednesday, the judgment was reserved by a five-member panel led by Chief Justice Bandial also including Justices Munib Akhtar, Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Shah, and Mandokhail after holding proceedings for over two days, from Monday to Tuesday.

The bench ruled in favor of the petitioners in the case by a three to two split decision, even though two of the judges raised an issue with the admissibility of the pleas.

Judge Jamal Mandokhail and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah were the opposing members who dissented from the majority decision.

In rendering its decision, the SC noted that the Constitution had set out 60 and 90 days for holding elections following the dissolution of assemblies and that the general election process was unique.

“Elections must be held within 90 days of the assembly’s dissolution,” according to CJP Bandial.

The Supreme Court asserted that the President had the power to announce the date of elections.

“The constitutional responsibility of announcing the date of elections is of the Governor, Governor KP deviated from the constitutional responsibility by not announcing the date of elections, the Election Commission should immediately suggest the date of elections to the President,” Apex court stated.

The decision also advised Election Commission to consult the President and announce the date of elections in Punjab and that governor KP should also announce the date of elections in the Provincial Assembly.

SC added that if the elections are not possible on April 9, then the date can be changed in Punjab after consultation.

“Elections in every province should be held within the constitutional period,” Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court further ordered all federal and provincial institutions to assist the Election Commission in the elections saying that the federation should provide all facilities to the Election Commission for the elections.

The court ruled that the Punjab Assembly dissolved on its own after 48 hours since the governor did not sign the summary, whereas the KP Legislature was dissolved after the governor signed the summary.

The president, governors, or the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) are responsible for setting the date if the provincial assemblies are dissolved.

The court reserved its decision once the parties to the case finished their arguments on Tuesday at around 6:30 p.m. following a two-day hearing.