SCBA slams delay in Punjab elections
Association says commission acting in blatant disregard of constitutional mandate, SC order ‘unfortunate'
The Supreme Court Bar Association on Thursday condemned the Election Commission of Pakistan's (ECP) move to postpone the elections in Punjab, describing it as “an absolute abrogation of the Constitution.”
A day earlier, the ECP delayed the election in Punjab until October 8 on the grounds that it could not conduct transparent and peaceful polls on the scheduled date of April 30.
In a statement, SCBA President Abid S Zuberi and Secretary Muqtedir Akthar Shabbir maintained that the commission could not change the date for elections “under any circumstances whatsoever”.
They pointed out that the apex court, through its order dated March 1, had made it “inexplicably clear that elections had to be held within the 90-day time period stipulated under Article 224 (2) of the Constitution”.
“However, it is unfortunate that the Election Commission has acted in such blatant disregard of its constitutional mandate and the order of the Supreme Court,” the statement added.
It further read that there was no provision in the Election Act or the Constitution that allowed the ECP to conduct polls beyond the 90-day time period stipulated under Article 224 (2).
“It is truly unfortunate to see that the Election Commission has grossly misinterpreted the Constitution, the law and order of the Supreme Court,” it stated.
The SCBA claimed that the commission had “acted in excess of jurisdiction and breached its constitutional mandate”.
The statement further read that it was also pertinent to highlight that the only constitutional function of the caretaker government was to ensure the conduct of fair and transparent elections.
It added that even the caretaker government was bound by the time period stipulated under Article 224 (2).
“Therefore, the caretaker government cannot function beyond the 90-day period stipulated under Article 224 (2),” it continued.
The SCBA argued that such violation of the Constitution could only lead to utter chaos and anarchy in the country.
“Given the current political and economic crises in the country, restoration of democracy and timely elections are the need of the hour,” the statement read.
The association contended that the ECP, by issuing the notification dated March 22, had now opened the door to “absolute chaos and uncertainty”.