Taking the Punjab Polls Review Seriously
In a recent development, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial highlighted that both the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the government have now shifted their focus to the Punjab polls review petition, acknowledging its significance. The CJP emphasized that in the past, these entities were driven by other motives when dealing with election matters, often diverting attention to trivial concerns such as the number of judges or appeals for a full court hearing. However, the current shift in focus signals a more serious approach.
A Matter of Autonomy: ECP Review Petition
The Supreme Court, led by its top judge, is presiding over a three-judge bench to hear the ECP’s review petition against its previous order issued on April 4. This order declared that the polls in Punjab should be held on May 14. Notably, the government has raised concerns about this order, claiming that it encroaches upon the autonomy of the ECP.
Jurisdictional Overreach: Government’s Stance
According to a concise statement submitted by the federal government through Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awan, the government argues that the order issued on April 4, 2023, represents a jurisdictional overreach. By encroaching upon the exclusive domain of the ECP, the order infringes upon the independence and autonomy of the commission. The government contends that this order violates the principles enshrined in the Constitution and the Election Act 2017, which have designated a specific and special role for the ECP.
Upholding Political Justice: Constitutional Ideals
The statement further highlights the concept of “political justice” as envisaged in the Objectives Resolution, which has become an integral component of Pakistan’s Constitution. This concept embodies the ideals and values that shape the democratic system in the country. The government argues that by announcing a poll date and encroaching upon the authority of an autonomous body responsible for safeguarding the votes of the people and ensuring free and fair elections, the concept of political justice is eroded and polluted.
ECP Lawyer’s Arguments: Enlarging the Scope of Review
During the proceedings, the lawyer representing the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Sajeel Sheharyar Swati, presented his arguments before the court. Swati urged the bench to broaden the scope of review in the matter. The ECP lawyer aims to ensure a comprehensive assessment of the issues at hand, allowing for a thorough examination of the Punjab polls review petition.