Says country’s atmosphere turned poisonous due to political intolerance; Issues notice to all respondents; SC seeks assurances from govt, PTI
The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Monday while issuing notice to all respondents asked the Election Commission of Pakistan over the legal and factual questions raised in Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s petition regarding the delay in elections of the Punjab Assembly.
These developments came to the fore during the hearing of the plea regarding the date for general elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Monday.
A five-member larger bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Aminuddin Khan and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail presided over the hearing.
During the hearing, CJP Bandial asked all political parties to give assurance to holding free and fair elections, adding that “political parties should restore calm and peace”.
“We cannot interpret the Constitution in a vacuum,” remarked the CJP. Justice Bandial further said the court “needs assurance that elections would be held in a transparent manner”.
The chief justice also said that the electoral watchdog “is just institution”, adding that “it may have gone a little off track, but it can be brought back”.
CJP Bandial stated that elections are important for democracy but can only be held in a conducive environment. He also questioned whether the ECP can annul the date of elections given by the president.
“Instead of amending the schedule, can it wipe out the schedule?” the CJP asked.
He also said that “Article 254 of the Constitution could not condone the wrongdoing which is referred by ECP”.
The apex court chief justice also noted that “there is a viewpoint that elections should be held in the country only when there is peace and order, elections should be free, transparent and fearless.”
“What are our politicians doing for stability in the country? This is a very disturbing situation”, remarked Justice Bandial.
Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail also made his remarks during the hearing and raised questions on the maintainability of the petition.
“Why the petitioner did not approach the high court for the implementation of the order,” inquired Justice Mandokhail.
He also asked, “where is the order of the court in suo motu case regarding the announcement of the date to hold elections”. However, Justice Munib Akhtar said that “all five judges had signed the short order”.
Issuing notices to the Election Commission of Pakistan for dragging feet on polls in Punjab, the Supreme Court of Pakistan sought guarantees from the government and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf to bury the hatchet for free, fair, and transparent elections. “The court only needs assurance from both sides. The elections should be peaceful, transparent, and fair. If the government and PTI want elections, they have to give assurances,” Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial said.He added the parties would decide what those assurances would be like not the court.
“The parties should evaluate what is and what isn’t good for the public. Pakistan’s Constitution was not made for only setting up or toppling the governments,” he remarked suggesting it was more than that.