Nine-member SC bench to take up suo motu notice on Punjab, KP polls today

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ISLAMABAD: A nine-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, will hear the suo motu notice of an apparent delay in the elections of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) assemblies today (Thursday).

Apart from CJP Bandial, the bench includes Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Athar Minallah.

The Supreme Court had taken suo motu notice on Wednesday two days after President Dr Arif Alvi fixed April 9 as the date for elections to the provincial assemblies — a move condemned by the government as “unconstitutional and illegal”.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) also sought input from the attorney general of Pakistan (AGP) and other legal experts — but no official announcement has been made so far.

The issue of delay in elections was referred to the chief justice by a two-member Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Ahsan and Justice Naqvi in the Lahore Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Ghulam Mehmood Dogar case on February 16.

According to the apex court’s statement, the bench will assess who is eligible to issue the date for polls, the constitutional responsibility of the federation and provinces, and who will fulfil the constitutional responsibility of conducting elections and when.

“It is the government’s responsibility to conduct elections in Punjab and KP according to the Constitution,” the top court’s statement read.

The Supreme Court added that the two provincial assemblies were dissolved on January 14 and 18, respectively.

“Under Article 224 (2), polls should be held within 90 days of the assembly dissolution. The Constitution mandates that polls be held within 90 days.”

The country’s top court also said that requests for the date of elections were also received from the Islamabad High Court bar and speakers of KP and Punjab assemblies.

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