LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) on Friday approached the Lahore High Court, seeking a direction to the Punjab governor to immediately announce the date of general election in the province since the assembly had been dissolved.
The PTI filed a petition through its General Secretary Asad Umar and arrayed the governor as respondent through his (governor’s) principal secretary.
The petition drafted by Senator Barrister Syed Ali Zafar states that more than ten days have passed since the dissolution of the Punjab Assembly but the respondent failed to fulfill his constitutional duty of announcing a the election date.
It says the respondent’s inaction to do the needful is unlawful and unconstitutional as article 105 (3)(1)(a) of the Constitution reads where an assembly is dissolved by the governor, he shall announce a date for the holding of general election, not later than 90 days from such dissolution.
The petition argues that a plain reading of the relevant provisions of the Constitution shows that the elections have to be held within the stipulated period of 90 days from the date of the assembly’s dissolution.
It contends that the governor is duty-bound to announce the election date so as to further the constitutional command to ensure the conduct of the polls in an honest, just and fair manner.
It argues that governor’s failure to discharge his duty is undermining and jeopardising the whole scheme of the Constitution regarding the conduct of the free and fair elections following the dissolution of an assembly.
The petition notes that the election date is also required immediately so that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) organise and conduct the poll according to article 218(3)
of the Constitution read with section 57 of the Election Act, 2017 and make arrangements necessary for free and fair election.
The PTI’s petition says the entire province of Punjab is waiting for the date of the fresh election as people want to know when there will be a return to a representative government. However, it argues, the respondent’s failure is frustrating the campaign plans of the candidates and their voters as well.
It argues that the governor is depriving the petitioner (PTI) of its fundamental right, guaranteed under Article 17 of the Constitution, to contest and participate in an election.
“Unless the date of the election is announced, the exercise of this right will be frustrated,” the petition adds.
It further submits that the election date for the assembly cannot be left open as it would not only be in violation of the Constitution and amounts to its subversion, but it would also be against the basic principles of democracy and contrary to the fundamental rights of the people of Pakistan.
It pleads that the election date is to be announced by the respondent immediately, or if so deemed fit by an appropriate direction by the court to the president of Pakistan or the ECP, as the case may be.
Published in Dawn, January 28th, 2023
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