Can ECP postpone elections, asks SC

Audio leaks commission: Govt objects to CJP presence in bench

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial remarked that elections are necessary for democracy and sacrifices have to be made to overcome the current crises in the country.
The Supreme Court’s 5-member larger bench, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, heard the petition of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf regarding the date of elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The new Attorney General Mansoor Awan and Senator Farooq H. Naek appeared in court.
Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial welcomed the new Attorney General Mansoor Awan in court and said that the court expects best assistance from him.
The Chief Justice further said, “we do not want to prolong the proceedings, it is a simple question whether the Election Commission can postpone the date or not? If the Election Commission has the authority, then the matter will end.”
Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial stated that the Additional Attorney General raised the point of making the political parties as party to the case. He said that the rule of law is necessary for democracy. Democracy cannot function without the rule of law, and if the political temperature is too high, the problems will increase.
The Attorney General said that two judges of the Supreme Court had already given a verdict, to which the Chief Justice replied that the question at the moment is not about the verdict, but about the authority of the Election Commission.
The Attorney General said that if the court’s decision was 3-4 in favor, then no order existed that had been violated. If there was no judicial order, then there would be no historical record of the president violating it.
The chief justice said that the entire budget was not necessary for elections, as Rs 20 billion can be deducted from our salaries.
Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, who is a member of the bench, questioned can the assemblies be dissolved on the whim of one man, adding that elections in the country would be held anyway but the question was who had the authority to extend them beyond 90 days. “If the political temperature stays so high, problems will increase,” the apex judge added.
Attorney General Awan said he would raise the question whether the present plea was admissible or not. He requested to form a full court as the matter was very important.
The CJP said the March 1 decision had been implemented and the matter should not be taken up again. “Don’t spoil the case by raising technical point again and again.”
Justice Mandokhail remarked that the number of bench members was an internal matter of the Supreme Court.
PPP lawyer Farooq H. Naek said there was “anarchy and fascism” in the country today. He sought time for preparation but the CJP said you are a senior lawyer and aware of all the facts. The CJP said the legal issue could not be resolved in a vacuum. “There is a need for discipline in society and political leadership,” he observed.
Naek said the Constitution was a living document. Interpretation can only be based on the ground realities. What is good for democracy and the country in the current situation has to be determined. He submitted that political parties were stakeholders, they must be heard.
Justice Jamal Mandokhail asked why this question was not raised in parliament, to which Naek said “it is being under consideration.”
The court adjourned the hearing of the case till tomorrow.


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