Supreme Court shuts all doors to election delay

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that no objections can be raised on the delimitations after the announcement of the schedule for the upcoming general elections.

A three-member bench of the top court, headed by interim chief justice Sardar Tariq, took up an appeal filed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) against the Balochistan High Court’s (BHC) decision to change the delimitations carried out by the polls organising body.

The decision was announced on ECP’s appeal against the delimitation of two provincial seats in Quetta. The SC also nullified the BHC’s decision on delimitation. 

The top court’s order has virtually closed all doors to election delay as courts across the country would not be able to entertain any petition challenging delimitation carried out by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) any more.

If the petitions against the delimitations were admitted, the lengthy litigation process could lead to delays in the elections.

The development comes days after the apex court nullified the Lahore High Court (LHC) order that halted the training of returning officers, raising prospects of polls delay in the country and paved way for the elections to take place on its scheduled time.

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa-led bench directed the electoral body to announce the election schedule, ending uncertainty surrounding the polls. 

In its order on the ECP’s petition, the three-member SC bench ruled that the LHC would not hold further hearings on the petitions related to the appointment of polling officers and that any matter pertaining to the issue should be referred to the top court.

The LHC’s decision, which came on a plea filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawyer Umair Niazi, suspended ECP’s decision to appoint the ROs and DROs from the executive branch.

Following the top court’s decision, the electoral body issued the much-awaited schedule for the general polls.

A day earlier, the ECP also resumed the training for the ROs and DROs in line with the top court’s verdict.