ISLAMABAD: Both the federal and Punjab governments, in their written replies submitted to the Supreme Court on Monday, seconded the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) request for the apex court to review its decision in the Punjab elections case.
In its reply, the federal government contested that the SC’s decision on April 4 to set the election date in Punjab was against the Constitution, as the apex court utilised the powers of the ECP to announce the polling date.
The federal government argued that it was the responsibility of the ECP to conduct free, fair and transparent elections. However, the SC’s decision to announce the polling date itself rendered the ECP’s authority ineffective, it said.
Furthermore, the government said that if elections were held first in the province of Punjab, which holds the highest number of seats, it could undermine the integrity of the National Assembly elections.
A victory in Punjab determines the formation of the central government, therefore, elections in Punjab should be held simultaneously with the National Assembly polls, the federal government said, praying the apex court to revisit its April 4 judgement.
Opposing the idea of holding elections in Punjab immediately, the provincial government argued that the SC did not have the power to announce elections date.
The Punjab government further said that the SC by announcing elections in the province on May 14 had violated the distribution of powers as laid down in the Constitution. Under Article 218, holding free and fair elections is the responsibility of the ECP, read the reply.
The Punjab government said it was due to the distribution of powers that the apex court had refrained from giving date for elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Apart from that, the provincial government said, the law and order situation had changed after incidents of violence on May 9. The reply stated that military and government buildings were damaged and set ablaze following the arrest of PTI chairman Imran Khan. Moreover, 162 policemen were injured, 97 police vans were set on fire, read the reply.
It was further stated that contrary to 554,000 police personnel required to provide security if elections were held in Punjab now, there were only 77,000 personnel available.
The ECP had filed a petition in the SC, urging the court to revisit its decision, dated April 4, 2023, in which it had ordered holding of elections in Punjab on May 14.
Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2023