In a hard-hitting speech, Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Abid Zuberi on Thursday said that Article 6 of the Constitution — which deals with treason — should be applied on Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja for violating the top court’s order and the Constitution as he failed to hold elections within 90 days after an assembly’s dissolution.
On March 1, the SC, in a split verdict, ruled that elections for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Punjab assemblies should be held within 90 days. The direction was given by the apex court in the suo motu notice verdict which was announced by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial. In light of the SC’s ruling, President Arif Alvi announced April 30 as a date for the Punjab polls after consulting the ECP.
Later, the electoral watchdog announced the postponement of the elections in Punjab citing security reasons as the major cause behind the change of plan. The ECP postponed the polls till October 8.
In April, the SC declared the ECP’s decision on the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) election null and void, ordering to hold snap polls — a persistent demand forced by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan after he dissolved the assemblies in both the provinces. The top court ordered the ECP to hold elections in Punjab on May 14. The ECP, however, could not comply with the top court’s order.
Addressing the Lawyers Convention organised by SCBA, Zuberi lashed out at the ECP, saying that the top court’s order could not be implemented so far.
“The ECP is violating the SC’s order and the Constitution,” said Zuberi. He also announced that the SCBA would challenge the recent amendments to the Official Secrets Act and the Pakistan Army Act in the SC.
Aitzaz terms CEC ‘facilitator’
Firing a fresh salvo at the CEC, veteran lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan termed Raja as a “facilitator” and “violator of the Constitution” for not holding general elections in the country on time.
Last month, the Council of Common Interests (CCI) approved the results of the 2023 digital census, making it almost certain that general elections may not be held on time. Then prime minister Shehbaz Sharif had chaired the meeting to decide the fate of the 2023 census.
Addressing the lawyers convention via a video link, Ahsan said, “The CEC has become a facilitator for not holding election [on time]. He is a violator of the Constitution.”
Stressing the need for holding the upcoming general elections on time, the prominent lawyer termed the fresh delimitation as “delaying tactics”.
Ahsan said that the caretaker set up does not have power to make administrative decisions. He urged the chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) to take decisions on the military courts ahead of his retirement.
On his part, Sardar Latif Khosa, while referring to the current political situation in the country, said, “Neither is there law nor the Constitution.”
He criticised the authorities over the elevator incident.
Last month, the senior lawyer and 16 others were trapped in a malfunctioning elevator at the Islamabad High Court (IHC) when he was returning after giving his arguments on a plea seeking suspension of Khan’s three-year jail sentence in the Toshakhana case.
“There is no rule of law in the country. Court verdicts are not being obeyed,” he said and asked if everyone had gone blind, can’t everyone see what is happening in this country.
“If you don’t raise your voice for your rights today, then your destiny is slavery,” Khosa warned the people.
Lawyers’ convention demands elections within 90 days
The All-Pakistan Lawyers Convention demanded that the next general elections be held within 90 days in the country.
The demand came after reports emerged that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is in no rush to announce the schedule of the general elections in the country, as the regular meetings are more focused on completing the process of constituency delimitation in an error-free manner.
According to a declaration, issued after the conclusion of the lawyers’ moot organised by the SCBA, said: “No caretaker government can go beyond 90 days.”
“Every institution in Pakistan is under the Constitution and cannot make even the slightest deviation from it,” the declaration stated.
The moot emphasised upon the importance of civilian supremacy, adherence to the constitution, the rule of law, and the independence and integrity of our constitutional institutions as fundamental pillars of our democracy.
“The General Elections are required to be held within 90 days of the dissolution of the assemblies and the ECP and all other institutions required to act in aid of ECP are under constitutional duty to do so,” said the declaration.
It further said that no caretaker government can go beyond 90 days and becomes unconstitutional and illegal after that. The caretaker government in the Punjab and KP have already become unconstitutional and are liable to be removed, it added.