Saturday December 02, 2023

LHC seeks federation’s reply on plea seeking elections in 90 days

By Sabah
October 03, 2023

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday sought a reply from the federal government by October 19 in response to a plea challenging the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) notification for conducting delimitation of constituencies.

Petitioner Muhammad Muqsit Saleem argued that this process will cause a delay in elections beyond the statutory period of 90 days as mandated by the Elections Act.

During the hearing presided over by Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh, the ECP requested for the dismissal of the plea, arguing that the petitioner is not a concerned party. Meanwhile, Justice Sheikh also summoned the attorney general to assist the court. The petitioner prayed the court to declare the ECP’s notification issued on August 17 as unconstitutional. He further requested that the relevant authorities cease following the unconstitutional directives of the notification and take legitimate steps to ensure elections are conducted within 90 days as guaranteed by the Constitution. The petitioner also sought the suspension of the notification’s execution until a decision was reached.

He said the notification, granting extensive powers for delimitation, will delay elections beyond the 90-day limit stipulated by Article 224 of the Constitution and Section 17(2) of the Elections Act. According to him, the constituencies’ limits were already published by the commission on August 5 last year.

He said the caretaker government’s role is to oversee the country’s administration, leading up to general elections, ensuring they are free, fair and transparent as well as maintaining law and order during the electoral process. The petitioner said however, if elections are not held within the constitutionally specified timeframe, the caretaker government’s mandate should typically end. “Given the current political climate resolving any legal or constitutional issues without close scrutiny is challenging, the petitioner added. The Constitution provides for both 90-day and 60-day election periods. Article 224(1) states that a general election to the National Assembly or a provincial assembly must occur within 60 days of the Assembly’s term expiration.

Article 224(2) stipulates that when the National Assembly or a provincial assembly is dissolved, a general election must be held within 90 days of the dissolution with results declared no later than 14 days after the polls close. -Sabah