General Elections: Supreme Court Issues Firm Warning Against Speculation

Top court says it facilitated a meeting between the ECP and President to ensure date for elections and that there should now be no doubt on elections being held

General Elections: Supreme Court Issues Firm Warning Against Speculation

With the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), following consultations with President Arif Alvi, announcing a date for the general elections, the top court has warned of speculation on poll dates. 

"Public opinion is influenced by media reports and analysis regarding a delay in the elections. Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) is there to [take] action if there is any negative news regarding the conduct of elections," observed Chief Justice Qazi of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa on Friday while heading a three-judge bench which heard petitions regarding delays in general elections. 

CJP Isa put down a marker, making it clear that elections will be held on February 8, as announced by the ECP. If anyone raises any doubts about it, then the SC will deal with them, remarked the chief justice, further observing that President Arif Alvi did not seek the advice of the Supreme Court under Article 186 in this matter.

Justice Athar Minallah, who was part of the three-member bench, noted that since a date has been given to the SC, no one would be allowed to violate it.

The bench noted that President Alvi and the ECP have put the apex court in an awkward position because neither the Constitution nor the law allows to determine the election date.

The order said that the ECP and the President must do what the Constitution requires because they have no other option except to abide by it. It is equally important that all constitutional bodies must not interfere in the domain of others, adding that all constitutional bodies must remain obedient to the Constitution, the top court noted. 

The court noted that it had assumed the jurisdiction of Article 184(3) to facilitate a meeting between President Arif Alvi and the ECP.

Justice Minallah recalled how, on November 3, an emergency imposed by then-military dictator General Pervez Musharraf had violated the Constitution.

Moreover, he referred to the case in which a ruling had been passed by then-deputy National Assembly Speaker Qasim Suri, rejecting the vote of no-confidence and dissolving the assembly, which the apex court subsequently overturned in a unanimous verdict which declared that dissolution of the assembly was unconstitutional.

He noted that a member of the bench held that the Parliament should take action against the President, then the prime minister and then the law minister under Article 6 for their role in dissolving the assembly. 

The top court hoped that every institution would develop maturity and an understanding. 

The writer is an Islamabad based journalist working with The Friday Times. He tweets @SabihUlHussnain