ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on Wednesday filed a petition in the top court, requesting it to direct the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to announce the date for general polls within the constitutionally mandated period of 90 days following the dissolution of the lower house – National Assembly – on August 9.
The association also challenged the approval of digital census 2023 by the Council of Common Interests (CCI) on August 5.
The petition, a copy of which is available with Daily City News, was filed by SCBA members belonging to the Professional Lawyers body (Hamid Khan Group).
The election supervisor is bound to hold polls within 90 days in case the assembly is dissolved early.
As the lower house was dissolved on August 9 three days before the end of its term, the elections are supposed to be held by November 9.
Meanwhile, after the approval of census 2023 by the CCI, a delay in the holding of polls seems to be in offing, as according to officials, the process of new delimitations may take four months or longer.
The SCBA, in its petition, urged the apex court to declare the participation of the caretaker chief ministers of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa in the CCI meeting as illegal.
“CCI decision on Aug 5 and its subsequent notification dated Aug 7 whereby the digital census of 2023 was unanimously approved by the CCI which included two caretaker chief ministers is in violation of the Constitution and CCI Rules, 2010.”
Both the Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa assemblies where the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government was in power were dissolved in January this year.
The caretaker governments in both the provinces were bound to hold elections within 90 days but failed to do so.
The petition maintained that the purpose of convening the CCI meeting a week before the dissolution of the National Assembly to approve the results of new census was to delay the elections, and requested the apex court to suspend the notification in this regard.
The petition further noted that holding of elections within a period of 90 days of dissolution of assemblies is a salient feature of the Constitution and any delay in the conduct of general elections beyond the mandatory period of 90 days as mandated by Article 224(2) of the Constitution, 1973 will be in blatant violation of Articles 4, 5, 6, 9, 17, 51, 106 and 224 of the Constitution.”
The petition adopted the stance that the caretaker chief ministers of Punjab and K-P had failed to fulfill the constitutional requirements of holding elections within 90 days.
It further said that after the dissolution of the two provincial assemblies the president cannot constitute the CCI afresh.
It underscored that according to the Constitution and the Election Act of 2017, the essential role of an interim government was to conduct polls in compliance with the law, noting that the caretaker chief ministers of Punjab and K-P, lacking proper election, were ineligible to participate in the CCI meeting.
The petition named the federation, four provincial governments, CCI secretary and the ECP as respondents.
Earlier, the SCBA had challenged the military courts case, Practice and Procedure Act and the alleged audio inquiry commission in the apex court.