The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday adjourned the hearing of the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) plea seeking review of its April 4 order of holding the Punjab Assembly elections on May 14 till Tuesday (May 23).
A three-member SC bench comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar heard the case.
During the course of proceedings, the chief justice said the ECP had raised a question regarding the court’s jurisdiction. The Commission had earlier contended before the court that it would conduct elections once funds were issued but now it had opened a pandora box, he added.
He asked whether the ECP could raise points in the review petition which were not raised before.
Barrister Ali Zafar, counsel for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), said the scope of a review petition was limited. May 14 had passed and the Constitution had been violated, while the caretaker governments in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were unconstitutional, he added.
The chief justice said the court wanted to hear the ECP’s arguments on the maintainability of the petition.
He asked Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan why negotiations were not being held between the government and the PTI. He was the first person to suggest talks between the two opposing sides regarding holding elections in the country, he added.
The CJP asked the AGP why the government could not restart negotiations with the PTI.
At this, Ali Zafar said two members of the PTI’s negotiating team had been arrested.
The AGP said the government had taken the matter of holding negotiations seriously, but the PTI had ended the talks.
The chief justice said the Constitution guaranteed political rights, while the court did not want to indulge in political matters.
He said the bench hoped that negotiations would start again and a solution would be reached and asked the AGP to inform his clients in that regard. The court expected from both parties that the political environment would improve, he added.
The CJP insisted that the process for dialogue be initiated once again. He called for addressing the narratives being put forward by both sides.
The PTI lawyer could talk to his leadership if the government invited the opposition for talks, he added.
CJP Bandial said the court knew how fundamental rights were to be implemented, however, peace was necessary for their implementation.
Subsequently, the court issued notices to the AGP, Punjab and KP advocate generals and adjourned the hearing.