ISLAMABAD, APR 27: Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday adjourned hearing of a plea seeking simultaneous elections across Pakistan.
At the last hearing before Eidul Fitr, the SC had asked political parties to hold talks on April 26 and come up with a response by April 27 after giving stakeholders a chance to reach an agreement.
A three-member bench comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Ijazul Ahsan heard the case.
At the outset of the hearing, Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awan told the court first contact between the government and the opposition was held on April 19 and it was decided to hold a meeting on April 26.
Federal Ministers Ayaz Sadiq and Khawaja Saad Rafique met PTI leader and former NA speaker Asad Qaiser who during the meeting said he is not ‘authorised’ for talks, the AGP said.
He further said that the coalition partners addressed the reservations of two political parties for talks with the PTI in yesterday’s meeting.
CJP Umar Ata Bandial remarked if the government was sincere in talks, it should have made moves. The SC only wants implementation of the law as per the constitution, he added.
The government does not want any explanation, but wants a solution of the conflict, the top judge remarked.
Later, the hearing was adjourned by the SC. The CJP remarked that the ‘appropriate’ verdict will be released in today’s hearing and the SC will not give any timeline.
Read more: SC bench headed by CJP Bandial delisted
The Supreme Court (SC) adjourned the hearing of a petition seeking simultaneous elections across Pakistan after being told that a meeting had been scheduled between the government and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) for April 26.
The Supreme Court, in its written order, stated that it was “impressed” to note that all political leaders had affirmed their fidelity to the Constitution. It also asserted that it would not go back on its order fixing May 14 as the date for the Punjab elections.
The order noted that the Supreme court has no objection to the negotiation process for holding general elections simultaneously. “Holding elections on the same day across the country is a legal and constitutional question,” it added.
It further said that all executive authorities were bound to implement the decision of the election to the Punjab Assembly on May 14.
Referring to CJP’s meeting with Farooq H Naek and AGP Mansoor, the order said that both the representatives informed the chief justice of talks between the government and opposition.
‘PM likely to take vote of confidence’
The National Assembly Secretariat has been ‘directed’ to prepare supplementary agenda as Prime Minister (PM) Shehbaz Sharif is considering seeking a vote of confidence from the lower house of the Parliament, said sources.
The coalition partners of the incumbent government have proposed PM Shehbaz Sharif to seek vote of confidence from NA amid the Supreme Court’s deadline regarding general elections in Punjab.
All the treasury benches members have been directed to ensure their attendance in today’s NA session. The decision to take a vote of confidence will be taken after SC’s verdict in the polls delay case.
Read more: PM Shehbaz Sharif mulls vote of confidence from NA
It may be noted that a three-member SC bench hearing the election delay case gave observation of a lack of majority with PM Shehbaz Sharif.
NA speaker pens letter to CJP
National Assembly (NA) Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on Wednesday penned down a letter to Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, conveying ‘concerns of elected representatives about Supreme Court’s (SC) recent orders’ on elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) as well as the release of funds.
In the letter penned down to CJP Umar Ata Bandial, the NA speaker expressed ‘serious concerns and unease of election representatives regarding some recent decisions of Supreme Court and comments made by some Judges, as reported in media’.
“The National Assembly strongly feels that these recent decisions amount to encroachment upon two core constitutional functions of the National Assembly i.e. law making and power of the purse,” the letter stated.
He drew the chief justice’s attention to Article 73 of the Constitution, which vests powers related to Money Bill exclusively in the National Assembly. “Articles 79 to 85 confer power and authority to approve expenditure from the Federal Consolidated Fund on the elected members of the National Assembly,” it added.
“Keeping in view these unambiguous constitutional provisions and division of powers and functions, I write to convey the profound concern of the National Assembly with the orders passed by a 3-member Bench of the Supreme Court, directing the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and Finance Division to release Rs21 billion to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP),” it noted.
It is pertinent to mention here that the Supreme Court – in its April 4 order – declared Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision to postpone elections to the Punjab Assembly till October 8 “unconstitutional” and fixed May 14 as new date.
However, the National Assembly later passed a resolution rejecting the three-member Supreme Court bench’s verdict on the Punjab polls, stating that it would not provide funds to the ECP for polls.
Following the government’s move, the Supreme Court (SC) directed the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to release a total of Rs21 billion to the election commission for holding polls, but the central bank did not release the funds even after the deadline passed.