Holding election in time essential for democracy, observes apex court
The apex court on Tuesday issued a written order on the hearing on March 27 on PTI's petition.
ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) – The Supreme Court of Pakistan has observed that under the constitution, general elections must be held on time, timely conduct of general elections honestly, fairly and in accordance with the law is essential for democracy
The apex court on Tuesday issued a written order on the hearing on March 27 on PTI's petition against postponing the general elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Errors, deficiency or failure in conducting general elections affects the public interest and the fundamental right to vote, the court order reads.
The following is the text of the court order:
“Learned counsel for the petitioners submits that the order dated 22.03.2023 issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) annuls the polling date fixed by the President of Pakistan in exercise of his power under Section 57(1) of the Elections Act, 2017 read with Article 112 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 (Constitution). It is, inter alia, contended that the ECP does not have any power under the law and the Constitution to pass such an order. It appears that the ECP has in the said order taken refuge behind Article 254 of the Constitution. The interpretation of that provision of the Constitution by this Court, inter alia, in Presidential Reference No.1 of 1988 (PLD 1989 SC 75), Rashid Ahmed vs. Government of Punjab (PLD 2010SC 573) and Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians vs. Federal of Pakistan (PLD 2022 SC 574) envisages post facto protection of the validity of the acts performed beyond the time fixed therefor by the Constitution. The said Article of the Constitution does not confer the prior authorization of delay in the execution of obligations required to be performed within a specified time prescribed by the Constitution. He further urges that the grounds given for extending the date of poll to 08.10.2023 have no backing of law or the Constitution. Such grounds may be available in several situations. In the past General Elections have been held notwithstanding that such factors were present at the time of the elections, for instance in 1988 and 2008.
“2. Timely General Elections held “honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law” are crucial for the democratic system of government mandated by our Constitution. Any flaw, deficiency or failing in the holding of General Elections is, prima facie, a matter of public importance that affects the fundamental rights of the voting public.
“3. In the first instance, therefore, notice is issued to the Respondents in this petition. The ECP shall come prepared to assist on the legal questions and the factual points raised in the petition.
“4. To come up tomorrow i.e. 28.03.2023 at 11:30 am for further hearing.”
According to the court order, notices have been issued to all the parties; the Election Commission has been asked to answer the legal questions raised in the petition.
Meanwhile, the three major political parties of the ruling coalition, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, the People's Party and the JUI, have decided to file an application to become a party to the case.