Islamabad: Federal Minister for Law and Justice Azam Nazeer Tarar Monday said that President Dr Arif Alvi had no jurisdiction to announce the election date for the provincial assemblies, adding that he had violated the Constitution by doing so.
In a strange move, President Dr Arif Alvi on Monday fixed April 9 as the date for elections to the provincial assemblies of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).
The development came hours after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) reaffirmed its decision not to consult the president on dates for elections to the two provincial assemblies.
Following this, he wrote a letter to Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, asking the ECP to issue the election schedule per Section 57(2) of the Act.
The president said that he was under oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution under Article 42, read with the third schedule of the Constitution.
Commenting on President Alvi’s move, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar said that President Dr Arif Alvi could announce the date for the election of the National Assembly and not that of the provincial assemblies after their dissolution.
He said that Article 48 (5) of the Constitution allowed the president to announce the date for the election of the National Assembly after it was dissolved by him.
Article 48 (5) says: “Where the president dissolves the National Assembly, notwithstanding anything contained in clause (1), he shall appoint a date, not later than ninety days from the date of the dissolution, for the holding of a general election to the Assembly and appoint a care-taker cabinet.”
Azam Tarar said, ”Article 105 (3) allows the governor to announce the date for holding the election to respective provincial assembly if he has dissolved that assembly.”
Article 105 (3) says:” Where the governor dissolves the provincial assembly, notwithstanding anything contained in clause (1), he shall appoint a date, not later than ninety days from the date of dissolution, for the holding of a general election to the assembly and (b) appoint a care-taker cabinet.”
The minister said the Punjab Assembly was not dissolved by the governor, rather it stood dissolved after 48 hours of the advice given by the chief minister. The governor had refused to sign the advice.
Moreover, the president could not fix the election date as the matter was sub-judice, he maintained.
As per Article 218 (3), he said, it was the responsibility of the Election Commission of Pakistan to conduct the elections.
Article 218 (3) reads: “It shall be the duty of the Election Commission to organize and conduct the election and to make such arrangements as are necessary to ensure that the election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law, and that corrupt practices are guarded against.”