Coalition parties show no confidence in SC’s three-member bench

Demand holding of general polls on single day across Pakistan


LAHORE (PPI): The coalition parties of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) Saturday expressed its “lack of confidence” in three-member bench of Supreme Court of Pakistan hearing a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) petition against the delay in elections of the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

The decision was taken during a high-level meeting of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) parties, chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to discuss the “overall political situation of the country”, according to a statement issued by Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).

Former President Asif Ali Zardari, PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, and other leaders participated in the meeting. The meeting was held through a video link.

The coalition parties expressed lack of confidence in the Supreme Court of Pakistan bench — comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Muneeb Akhtar.

The meeting was summoned after the Supreme Court rejected the ruling alliance’s plea for a full court bench in the election delay case. The apex court itself witnessed high drama, with two judges recusing themselves from the remaining three-member bench.

Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail withdrew from the bench a day after Justice Amin-ud-Din Khan rescued himself from hearing the case.

During the meeting, matters relating to the country’s overall situation, the alliance’s future strategy and other issues were discussed in the meeting.

According to the statement, the meeting of PDM parties demanded that elections should be held in the country at the same time.

“Holding transparent and impartial elections is a fundamental constitutional requirement and deviation from it will push the country into political crisis,” read the declaration.

“The meeting expressed no confidence in the three-member bench headed by the chief justice, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Muneeb Akhtar and demands that the present court proceedings be terminated by accepting the four-judge majority judgment of the suo motu no. 1/2023,” the press release said.

“The Chief Justice wants to impose a minority decision on the majority,” the participants of the meeting said.

References filed under Article 209 of the Pakistan Bar Council and other Bar Associations should be processed, it maintained.

“The sad fact is that the chief justice of the Supreme Court wants to impose the decision of the minority on the decision of the majority. This conduct is not only a serious constitutional and political crisis in the country but also a clear example of deviation from the Constitution and prevailing legal procedures, which is also a clear violation of the basic concept of the division of powers of the state,” the release said.

The meeting raised the question that the bench headed by the senior-most judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Qazi Faiz Isa, has ordered to stop the hearing of all the cases under 184 (3).

Conflicting court decisions have created an unworkable and complicated situation. Everyone must also respect the decision of Justice Qazi Faiz Isa’s bench, the meeting added.

The former prime minister Nawaz Sharif pitched the strategy during the meeting convened at the PM’s residence in Model Town to deliberate ways to create counterweights for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) mounting legal pressure on the government.

The meeting, according to sources, was held to hear from Nawaz whether the government should cooperate or not with the ongoing judicial procedure. Nawaz’s blunt opinion was: “There is no expectation of justice from the three-member bench”.

The consultative meeting agreed that the Attorney General of Pakistan Mansoor Usman Awan would appear in the court and expressed no confidence in the three-member bench.

Talking to media persons after the huddle, Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) chief Molana Fazlur Rehman on Saturday said the ruling coalition would neither negotiate nor hold any dialogue with the PTI chairman Imran Khan on elections.

He said the Supreme Court was hearing an important case regarding elections adding that two judges distanced themselves and another two dissented with a nine-member bench hearing the case. “The nation went into confusion upon judges’ recusal and later two more judges rescued themselves ultimately leaving the case to a three-member bench”, he added.

He said Mr Khan was brought to power through rigging in the 2018 general elections and asked if the suo motu notice was taken on the rigging.

He went on to say that morally, the remaining justices should also distance themselves from the bench adding that they should decide the case independently. “Elections should be held at one time to keep the country united”, he added. Census was going on, he said, and once it was completed, delimitation would start.

The JUI chief said how politicians, the parliament, and the public should perceive the ongoing situation adding that it was the ECP’s constitutional prerogative to announce a date for elections. “The suo motu case has been rejected by 4-3 and we do not put our weight behind a three-member bench”, he added. Mr Khan wanted division, he said, between institutions.

Fazl added that the Chief Justice and the other two judges should morally recuse themselves from this case. He alleged that a few judges want to provide relief to PTI Chairman Imran Khan whose party has filed a plea against the delay in the polls.

The PDM Chief further alleged that two major culprits of rigging are on the loose and no notice is being taken against them and said that elections should take place on the same day across the country to take place to keep the country united. “Imran Khan wants divisions within institutions,” Fazl said, highlighting the impact of the PTI chief’s plea in the apex court.

It is pertinent to mention here that Punjab and KP assemblies were dissolved on Jan 14 and Jan 18, respectively. As per law, the elections are to be held within 90 days after the dissolution of assemblies.

Therefore, April 14 and April 17 were the deadlines for holding general elections to Punjab and KP assemblies, but the two governors instead of setting dates for elections after receiving the proposal from the ECP had advised the commission to consult stakeholders.

Chief secretaries and inspectors-general of the two provinces during meetings with the ECP had said they were short of police force and talked of terrorism threats, making out a case for putting off elections.

The finance division had also expressed its inability to provide funds and the interior ministry told the ECP that the army and civil armed forces will not be available.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.