PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Tuesday directed the Election Commission of Pakistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to separately respond to a petition of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf seeking orders for the governor to announce the schedule for the provincial assembly elections.
A bench consisting of Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim and Justice Syed M Attique Shah fixed Feb 14 for next hearing into the petition, which challenged a delay in the announcement of the date for elections to the provincial assembly, which was dissolved on Jan 18.
The PTI filed the petition through its secretary general, Asad Umar.
After preliminary hearing, the bench declared that two respondents, including ECP through its secretary and KP government through its chief secretary, should file their respective replies to the petition within three days.
The petitioner requested the court to direct the governor to act in accordance with the Constitution to ensure the holding of polls within 90 days of the dissolution of the assembly as required by the Constitution.
PTI prays court to ask governor to declare PA election date
He also prayed to the court to declare unconstitutional and illegal the assertion of the governor, reported in the media, that the decision on holding of polls would be taken in the light of reports of intelligence and other agencies.
Senior lawyer Mohammad Muazzam Butt represented the petitioner and said then KP chief minister Mahmood Khan had forwarded his advice to the governor for dissolution of the provincial assembly on Jan 17 under Article 112(1) of the Constitution.
He said the governor ordered dissolution of the KP Assembly on Jan 18 with an immediate effect.
“The ECP, through a letter on Jan 24, told the governor that consequent to dissolution of the provincial assembly, a general election was to be held in the next 90 days under Article 224(2) of the Constitution. Also, the governor was reminded by the ECP that under Article 105(3) of the Constitution, he was mandated to fix a date, not later than 90 days from the date the assembly was dissolved, for holding the general elections to the assembly, in consultation with the ECP, in terms of Section 57(1) of the Elections Act, 2017.”
Mr Butt argued that the period of 90 days began on Jan 18, so the polling day might not be taken beyond April 17.
He said the ECP had requested the governor to fix the date of polling between April 15 and April 17.
“Instead of announcing the date for polls, the governor, in a letter to the ECP on Jan 31, had referred to the poor law and order situation and asked the Election Commission to consult political parties and law-enforcement agencies about fixation of the date,” he said.
Provincial advocate general Amir Javed opposed the petition and contended that it was not maintainable and should be rejected.
He argued that the cause of action had still not arisen for the petitioner to approach the high court as the governor had never said that the polls won’t be held.
The AG wondered how the petitioner could approach the court when the deadline for holding the polls had yet not passed.
He contended that the governor had been enjoying immunity under Article 248 of the Constitution and was not answerable to any court for the exercise of powers and performance of functions of his office.
Meanwhile, PTI Senator Shibli Faraz warned that his party’s members would court arrest if elections for the KP Assembly were not held within the stipulated 90 days.
After attending court hearing, he told reporters here that the ‘corrupt and inefficient’ federal government, which was formed through a conspiracy early last year, had turned the country into a “police state”.
Mr Faraz said his party had gone for the dissolution of the KP and Punjab assemblies keeping in view the constitutional provisions but the corrupt rulers had been using unconstitutional means to delay the polls.
He added that violators of the Constitution should be tried under Article 6 of the Constitution for high treason.
The PTI leader said military ruler retired General Pervez Musharraf had seized power and held it for long years through unconstitutional means, so the government should have not sent a special plane to Dubai to bring Musharraf’s body home.
Published in Dawn, February 8th, 2023
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