New legal debate

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THE issue of elections for the provincial assemblies of Punjab and KP is being debated in legal and political circles as the Governors and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) are not giving a date for the purpose citing relevant constitutional provisions while the unilateral fixation of date by the President is being termed as illegal and unconstitutional by a majority of the political parties. The issue is being examined both by the Lahore High Court (LHC) and the Supreme Court of Pakistan and might be settled by the apex court after hearing all sides.

However, the point raised by one of the members of the SC bench – Justice Athar Minallah – during the hearing of the suo motu case on the opening date about examining the legality of dissolution of Punjab and KP assemblies has triggered a new and pertinent debate. The Chief Justice, who heads the bench, pointed out that the Constitution stipulates elections in 90 days, asserting that the will of the Constitution would be upheld at all costs. However, it is relevant to point out that all provisions and clauses of the Constitution are sacrosanct and they should be implemented in letter and spirit without any discrimination or pick and choose.

Dissolution of an assembly is the sole prerogative of the Prime Minister/Chief Minister concerned and if their decision was motivated by outside forces or taken under pressure, this should also be taken notice of. The remarks of Justice Mansoor Ali Shah that assemblies can be restored if the Constitution not followed offer a way out of the existing messy situation. We hope lawyers representing all parties and institutions would also focus on this point and the top court would take them into confidence while announcing a verdict.