ISLAMABAD: Highlighting expected challenges in the upcoming elections of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the next general elections, Federal Minister for Law and Justice Azam Nazeer Tarar said on Wednesday that the suo motu notice taken by the apex court on the provincial elections was uncalled for.

Addressing a press conference, Mr Tarar said a plain reading of Article 224 of the Constitution stipulated that caretaker governments across the country were imperative for general elections to take place.

Article 224 elaborates timing of elections as well as the procedure of the appointment of a caretaker prime minister in case the leader of the house and leader of the opposition do not agree on the name of a caretaker premier.

The minister stressed that it was a constitutional requirement to have caretaker governments in all the provinces to proceed with the general elections.

Terms SC suo motu notice on KP, Punjab elections ‘uncalled for’

At present, Sindh and Balochistan provinces had elected governments, which would complete their five-year term this year, while KP and Punjab were ruled by caretaker set-ups, he said.

The Supreme Court, in a 3-2 verdict, earlier on March 1 ruled that the elections in KP and Punjab — both of which have been under caretaker governments since the provincial assemblies were dissolved in January — should be held within 90 days.

The minister asked if people would trust the fairness of the general elections in October when there would already be elected governments in place in the KP and Punjab provinces with all key departments under their control.

Mr Tarar was of the opinion that the apex court would have considered these complications and conducted a thorough review of Article 224 before arriving at a conclusion. However, he said, the suo motu notice on the provincial elections was uncalled for.

He also highlighted that four worthy judges of the apex court were against the stance of three learned judges.

According to him, Election Commission of Pakistan is responsible for holding fair and transparent polls under Article 218(3) of the Constitution. He reiterated that the general elections should only be held under caretaker governments countrywide.

Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2023

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