ISLAMABAD: A petition filed in the Supreme Court on Monday challenged Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja’s refusal to meet President Dr Arif Alvi to discuss fixing the poll date within the 90-day constitutional deadline after the latter invited him for consultations.
The application, submitted by lawyer Ibadur Rahman Lodhi, argued that it was unconstitutional to deny the president’s constitutional authority on grounds provided by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). It requested the apex court to declare that only the president was empowered to determine the date of elections within the given timeframe.
The petition further claimed that since the powers of the caretaker government were limited, the president did not require a summary from the interim setup in order to set the election date.
It also emphasised that the caretaker government does not have the mandate of the people.
In a letter to the chief election commissioner, President Alvi stated that, as per Article 48 (5) of the Constitution, he was obliged to set a date for the general election of the National Assembly within 90 days of its dissolution on August 9, 2023.
However, in response, CEC Raja argued that the National Assembly was dissolved on the advice of the prime minister, in accordance with Article 58(1) of the Constitution, on the same date.
Meanwhile, the PTI has approached the Supreme Court over fear of expected delay in the general elections. A petition was filed by party’s Secretary General Omar Ayub in the apex court, requesting it to order the president to announce the date for polls within 90 days. It further urged the top court to direct the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to issue a schedule in this regard.
The plea seeks to declare the August 5 decision of the Council of Common Interests (CCI) and the 2023 census results of the bureau of statistics illegal.
Also, as the PPP continues to push for timely elections and raise alarms, party leader Nayyar Bukhari asserted that the President of Pakistan has the authority, as outlined in the Constitution, to announce the date for the upcoming elections.
Bukhari, also a former general secretary of the Pakistan Bar Council, explained that the Constitution provides a legal framework for this decision to be made by the head of state.
Bukhari stated, “The President can announce an election date, and opinions may differ on this matter, but based on my understanding of the Constitution, it is within his power to do so.”
During the interview, Bukhari stated, “I am of the opinion that the constitution is supreme.”
Asked about the PPP’s stance if the president were to announce a date that conflicts with the ECP’s position, Bukhari affirmed that the party would remain committed to upholding the Constitution. “We will stand by the Constitution.”
The senior leader further noted that the PPP has made significant sacrifices to uphold the constitution and reaffirmed the party’s commitment to support it.
He went on to emphasise that the PPP upholds a distinct ideology and remains committed to its principles. He clarified that the party is no longer in alliance with the PML-N following the dissolution of the assemblies.
Bukhari also highlighted the growing discontent and frustration among the general population, largely driven by concerns such as rising inflation rates.