SC seeks CEC report on obstacles to hold Punjab elections

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Asks Sikander Sultan why Ghulam Mahmood Dogar was transferred?

The Supreme Court on Thursday sought a detailed report from Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja regarding the obstacles in the way of the Punjab elections, as it heard a petition against the transfer of Ghulam Mahmood Dogar as the Lahore capital city police officer.

A two-member bench consisting of Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi presided over the hearing while the Punjab advocate general represented the Punjab government.

During the hearing, Raja told the court that he was being “prevented” from exercising his powers and constitutional requirements, as he lamented he was refused security, returning officers and funding for the elections from the army, the judiciary and the executive respectively.

The hearing began with Justice Ahsan asking about why Dogar was transferred despite apex court orders to the contrary.

Dogar as the Lahore CCPO was at the centre of a tussle between the federal government and the then Punjab government under Chaudhry Parvez Elahi. Dogar booked PML-N leaders in cases and headed the Wazirabad JIT which was probing the attempted assassination of Imran Khan. The Centre tried recalling him, which was blocked by the Punjab government. It ultimately suspended Dogar, but he was reinstated by the top court.

“There were Supreme Court orders, so why was the CCPO still transferred,” Justice Ahsan asked the Punjab advocate general. “What was the rush to transfer Ghulam Mahmood Dogar?” “With the election commission’s permission, Dogar was transferred for the second time,” the Punjab government’s lawyer responded.

Justice Ahsan then asked: “What is the role of the election commission in the change of officers?” Justice Naqvi followed up by observing that the election commission’s role came after the announcement of the elections. “Due to the caretaker setup in Punjab, permission was taken from the election commissioner,” the additional advocate general said. “According to the Constitution, elections are to be held within 90 days after the caretaker setup,” he added.

“Then tell me where the election is,” Justice Ahsan asked. “Half of Punjab was transferred,” Justice Naqvi remarked. “Is there any district in Punjab where a transfer has not occurred?”

Justice Ahsan then asked: “Was the election commission not aware of the orders of the Supreme Court?” “The election commission is doing everything except its own job,” he remarked. The court then summoned CEC Raja “immediately”, pausing the hearing for an hour.