Supreme Court dismisses ECP’s plea for review of Punjab election order

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Islamabad: The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a petition by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) asking the apex court to reconsider its order to hold the Punjab Assembly elections on May 14. In a unanimous judgment on April 04, the apex court bench had set aside the decision of the electoral body to extend the date of elections in the province from April 10 to October 08 and fixed May 14 as the new date.
It also directed the government to release Rs 21 billion for elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and provide a security plan to the ECP in connection with the elections. Further, the court had directed the concerned authorities to keep it in the loop.

However, later the ECP in a report submitted to the apex court said that the then ruling coalition was not willing to release the funds. It argued that holding separate elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa before elsewhere was not feasible as it would cost much more than holding polls on a single day. Several weeks would be needed before the security mechanisms that had already broken down were activated.

Earlier on May 03, less than two weeks were left for the election when the court fixed May 14 as the date of the election. The Election Commission had filed its petition seeking review of the April 04 order of the court. A three-member SC bench comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Muneeb Akhtar today resumed hearing of the matter, which was attached by the top court in June with the (Review of Judgments and Orders) Act 2023 And it was struck down by the apex court on 11 August.

During the hearing today, the ECP advocate sought one more week’s time for election preparation. The Chief Justice, however, asked the advocate to inform the court about his stand and said that after the hearing, the bench would review the matter. The counsel replied that he needed some more time to prepare additional ground in the matter. He said that the most important question is about telling the date of the election. The advocate argued that after the amendment of Section 57 and 58 of the Election Act 2017, its power is now with the ECP.

Justice Akhtar remarked, ‘Counsel sir, keep in mind that this is a review (petition).’ “Don’t raise the points which were not raised in the original case,” he said. The judge told the ECP counsel, “From the record tell us about the mistakes in the order which requires review.” Chief Justice Bandyal said whenever there is a constitutional violation, the court will intervene.

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