LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Monday issued notices to the caretaker federal government, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the principal secretary to the president on a petition seeking an order for holding of general election in the country within 90 days of the National Assembly dissolution.
At the outset of hearing, Justice Chaudhry Abdul Aziz asked the petitioner’s counsel that apparently his client was most interested in holding of the general election as no political party so far approached the courts on the matter.
The lawyer said the matter was of public importance as it affected vital fundamental rights of the citizens.
He argued that the holding of elections within a period of 90 days of the dissolution of assemblies is a salient feature of the Constitution and any delay in this regard beyond the period as mandated by Article 224(2) of the Constitution, will be a blatant violation of Article(s) 4, 5, 6, 9, 17, 51, 106 and 224.
He said any delay in the elections to the National Assembly, other than on the command of the Constitution, would amount to subversion of the supreme law and violation of the principles of democracy and rule of law.
The counsel pointed out that since the National Assembly was dissolved a few days before the expiry of its tenure, the general elections had to be conducted within 90 days of the dissolution under Article 224 (2) of the Constitution.
He said after the dissolution of the assembly by the president on the advice of the prime minister, the president shall fix a date for the election not later than 90 days.
However, he said the delay in elections was due to the ECP’s violation of the constitutional rights and provisions relating to timely elections.
He argued that the Constitution does not grant the ECP exclusive authority and responsibility to announce election dates, but it requires consultation by the commission with the president.
The lawyer asked the court to declare that the ECP cannot give a date for the election, and if it is held that the date can be given by the commission, it has no power to give a date beyond 90 days of the dissolution of the assembly.
He further asked the court to hold that the election be held on the date fixed by the president.
After hearing the arguments, Justice Aziz issued notices to the respondents for submission of their replies by Oct 19. Advocate Munir Ahmad filed the petition.
Separately, Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh of the LHC adjourned a similar petition filed by Advocate Muqsit Saleem.
The ECP filed its reply questioning the locus standi of the petitioner to agitate the matter before the court.
The judge directed the federal government to submit its reply by Oct 19.
Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2023