The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Monday reserved its verdict in the case about the delay in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by-polls after hearing arguments from Election Commission, PTI, and other stakeholders.
The three-member panel led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Atta Bindial rejected the government’s request for the formation of a full court to hear the case in a statement filed ahead of the hearing by Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awan.
In addition, the PDM administration requested that the PTI petition be dismissed given what it perceived to be a “4-3” ruling rendered by the Supreme Court on March 1.
The SC bench has been dissolved twice after Justice Mandukhel and Justice Aminuddin earlier excused themselves from hearing the case.
The hearing into the election delay case was resumed today by the three-person panel, which is led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial and consists of Justices Munib Akhtar and Ijaz ul Ahsan.
Have you stopped the boycott of the bench, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial questioned PPP attorney Farooq H Naek at the beginning of the hearing.
Naek responded that the PPP had concerns about the bench’s composition but had not boycotted the procedures, to which the CJP retorted, “Then who has boycotted the three-member bench?”
The CJP refused to hear the alliance government’s lawyers. Kamran Murtaza stated during the hearing that the bench has his concerns.
Akram Sheikh, an attorney for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), informed the court that the party has not yet revoked the power of attorney and has concerns about the bench handling the case. He added that they have not yet called for a boycott of the proceedings.
In his comments, Justice Munib Akhtar stated that while some people are boycotting the hearing, others want to participate in the court proceedings.
The CJP noted that the issue of how the ECP announced the date of October 8 for the elections had been brought up. He claimed that the Election Commission of Pakistan lacked the authority to postpone elections, as was done in 1988, and that only the Supreme Court could do so.
The Supreme Court’s hearing, CJP Bandial continued, is in the public interest and there are disagreements among the justices.
AGP Awan then returned to the suo motu case, saying that the case was heard by a nine-member panel in the “first round.”
AGP Awan said, “Details of the two judges’ dissenting notes have emerged while the two judges had dismissed the petitions on the first day.
Then, CJP Bandial informed the AGP that he has yet to come across a situation in which the chief judge was prevented from switching benches.
The attorney general of Pakistan further said the problem is whose decision is the majority one. “The solution is that those judges who heard the case earlier should be separated from it now.”
Another member of the bench, Justice Munib Akhtar, said, “Your point is noted, moved forward.” Following the ruling rendered on May 29 by Justice Qazi Faez Isa, the SC Registrar’s Office issued a notice.
The AGP noted that a circular cannot be used to overturn a court order or decision. “Only the review petition may invalidate a court decision.”
The Chief Justice of Pakistan, Umar Ata Bandial, stated that no judgment is revoked by means of a circular; rather, it was only issued in relation to the issue of prohibiting hearings under Article 184/3.
The top judge also remarked that no clear directions were given in the order passed by a three-member bench headed by Justice Qazi Faez.
Justice Munib further remarked if AGP’s stance is accepted by the SC, even then the full court cannot hear this case.
CJP Bandial asked AGP that he can plead for the formation of a larger bench to hear the case but cannot for a full court. “Full court meeting can be fruitful, but not a bench.”
The CJP also mentioned that he had recently met top judges. Judges’ unity, according to CJP Bandial, is essential for the Supreme Court. He claimed that although court hearings were open to the public, judge discussions were kept private.
For a while, the meeting has been postponed.
The top judge said during today’s hearing that while security is a crucial problem, the issue of forces also involves the Pakistan Navy and Air Force in addition to the Army.
If the Pakistan Army is preoccupied with security concerns, assistance from the Navy and Pakistan Air Force may be requested, according to the CJP.
According to CJP, if the court receives a “sensitive issue,” an in-chamber hearing will be held.
Secretary Defense, Lt. General (retired) Hamoodur Zaman said the security situation in Punjab is ‘concerning’, and cannot reveal details in the open court, as it will help Pakistan’s enemy, he added.
CJP asked who will give security for the elections and added that question is how everything will be ‘good’ on October 8.
The secretary defense said the reserve force can be summoned in an ‘extraordinary’ situation.
Govt cannot boycott court proceedings: AGP
Upon being asked by the CJP, the Attorney General of Pakistan, Mansoor Usman Awan said the government cannot boycott the court proceedings.
Government functions as per law and constitution, he added. In his arguments on the PTI’s plea, the AGP said the plea has pleaded with the SC to nullify the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision to postpone the election.
The PTI plea states to give the right to announce the election date in KP to the president based on the court’s decision of March 1.
However, governor KP did not give any election date until the filing of the PTI plea, he added.
Coalition govt shows no-trust
On Saturday, the coalition parties expressed their “lack of confidence” in the three-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan hearing a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) petition against the delay in elections of the Punjab Assembly.
According to a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office, the decision was made during a high-level meeting of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) parties, which was presided over by Prime Minister (PM) Shehbaz Sharif and was held to discuss the “overall political situation of the country”. (PMO).
The Supreme Court bench, which is made up of Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, and Justice Muneeb Akhtar, has received criticism from the coalition groups.
Strict security measures have been taken by the Islamabad administration, and police and Rangers personnel have been deployed to maintain law and order during the high-profile case hearing.
Unrelated people including political leaders and lawyers have been barred from entering Red Zone over security concerns.
The lawyers and police officials also exchanged hot words over the denial to entry in the SC.