A day after a scathing dissenting note from Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail on the March 1 verdict on Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa polls, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial remarked that it was their “opinion” and had no link with the ongoing case.
The CJP passed the remark when the Supreme Court resumed the hearing on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) petition challenging the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision on Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa elections.
CJP Bandial is heading the five-member larger bench hearing the plea. Apart from the CJP, the bench includes Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Amin-Ud-Din Khan and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail.
The Imran Khan-led party had challenged the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision to defer the Punjab polls till October 8.
The electoral body’s announcement came after financial and security authorities expressed their inability to support the electoral process.
Following this, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Haji Ghulam Ali also urged the electoral body to hold general elections on the same date (October 8) as the Punjab polls given the growing security threats from terror groups operating from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border regions.
At the outset of the hearing, CJP Bandial welcomed newly appointed Attorney General for Pakistan Mansoor Usman Awan. While seeing “good friend” Farooq H Naek, the CJP remarked that the court would need assistance of the senior lawyer on the matter.
The CJP remarked that the court does not want to drag this matter.
He said that ECP’s jurisdiction as per yesterday’s order will be seen by the court, while the request of the ruling coalition parties to become party in the case will be looked into later.
“Rule of law and democracy are two sides of a same coin. There should be mutual tolerance, patience and law and order” CJP Bandial observed.
Meanwhile, Naek interjected and told the bench that they were also stake holders in the case.
At this, the CJP assured the senior lawyer that no one denied Naek’s importance but he personally believed that they shouldn’t engage in a legal controversy.
He said that the parties had to decide the direction of circumstances while the court had to keep the facts in view.
“On the March 1 verdict my stance is that the law empowers the president to give a date for the elections. If you want clarification on the March 1 decision then file a separate petition,” said the CJP. He added that the “simple question” in the case was whether the ECP can change the election date or not.
“If ECP has the power then the matter will be resolved,” said the CJP
On the other hand, attorney general contended that if the court decision was 4-3 then there is no order. He added that if it was not a court order then the president cannot give the election date.
“The March 1 decision should be decided first,” said the AGP.
At this, CJP Bandial remarked that right now the case was not of giving the election date but