Web Desk Published: 7 April at 09:48 | Updated: 7 April at 11:02
Supreme Court Justice releases detailed note on delay in holding provincial elections
Supreme Court Justice Athar Minallah has released a detailed note on the suo motu notice proceedings on the delay in holding elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab. The judge's note follows the dismissal of the case in a 4-3 vote.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial had taken suo motu notice of the polls in February, citing a lack of clarity. The bench was later split into a five-member group, and the case was referred back to the top judge.
On March 1, the Supreme Court directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to consult with President Arif Alvi for polls in Punjab and Governor Ghulam Ali for elections in KP. The court allowed the ECP to propose a poll date that deviates from the 90-day deadline by the "barest minimum," in case of any practical difficulty.
Justice Mandokhail and Justice Shah, who were among the four judges who had written additional notes in the Feb 23 order, dissented with the ruling. In a joint dissent note, the two top court judges said that the suo motu proceedings initiated by the CJP were "wholly unjustified," besides being initiated with "undue haste."
In his 25-page-long note, Justice Minallah observed that petitions were filed seeking contempt of court proceedings to reinforce the Lahore High Court's Feb 10 verdict, which ordered the ECP to immediately announce the date for elections in Punjab. He said that the Supreme Court had "no reason to doubt the ability and competence" of the former.
Justice Minallah also noted that the process of constituting benches and allocating cases must be transparent, fair, and impartial. He said that the court must show extreme restraint in matters involving political stakeholders, and it must not allow any stakeholder to use its forum for advancing its political strategy or gaining an advantage over other competitors.
The dismissal of the case has left many uncertain about the status of provincial elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab. Some have criticized the handling of the case by the Supreme Court, arguing that the court's decision-making process was flawed and lacked transparency.