Elections for the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Punjab assemblies must be held within 90 days, the Supreme Court ordered on Wednesday.
The supreme court issued the directive in its suo motu notice decision, which was made public by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial today.
Justices Mansoor Ali Shah and Jamal Mandokhail dissented from the majority judgment.
The president, governors, or the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) are responsible for setting the date in the event that the provincial assemblies are dissolved. The top court had taken suo motu notice of this issue.
A five-member bench headed by CJP Bandial and comprising Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Shah, and Judge Mandokhail conducted the sessions for two consecutive days – from Monday to Tuesday. The court deferred its decision following the two-day-long hearings when the parties to the case finished presenting their arguments at about 6:30 p.m.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the ruling alliance were requested by the top court to agree on a mutual date for the polls, but the counsel for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) informed the court that it is not the responsibility of political parties to set election dates.
The coalition partners wanted more time to consult with one another, thus the PML-N attorney urged the court to continue the proceedings. Following President Arif Alvi’s announcement of the election schedule, the SC took the suo motu notice of what appeared to be a delay in the two assemblies’ elections on February 23. This action was sharply criticized by the government.
According to the CJP, the suo motu notice was issued to determine who was qualified to set the election date and who had the constitutional authority to do so at what time. After the initial hearing on February 23, four judges raised concerns about the bench’s makeup and suo motu authority under Article 184(3). They also issued opposing notes.
Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Athar Minallah had requested the chief justice to form a new bench to hear the case. Moreover, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Afridi, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, and Justice Minallah dissociated themselves from the case.
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