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Supreme Court orders holding Punjab, KP elections in 90 days

09:05 AM | 1 Mar, 2023
Supreme Court orders holding Punjab, KP elections in 90 days
Source: File Photo

ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday directed all stakeholders to hold elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa within 90 days.

The decision from the five-member bench of the apex was passed by a vote of 3-2; Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah gave a dissenting note.

The court announced the reserved verdict in the suo motu case on a delay in the announcement of date for elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

The top court while announcing the anticipated verdict directed electoral watchdog to take measures for elections in both provinces where the local legislatures were dissolved by Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

The court directed ECP to finalise over the date of elections with the president under sections 57 and 58 of the Election Act.

In the ruling, the court raised questions over President Alif Alvi's order to announce elections date in KP due to the dissolution of the assembly by the Governor. The order however remains applicable to country's most populated region Punjab.

Earlier, all eyes were on the Supreme Court of Pakistan as court reserved its verdict and it was expected to be announced the same day but the apex court decided to announce it on Wednesday.

A five-member bench including Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar will announce the ruling at 11am.

The matter garnered attention as the ruling in this regard will settle the authorities of the president, governor, and Election Commission of Pakistan about the announcement of the election date in case of the dissolution of provincial assemblies.

Earlier, the court directed political parties to consult their leaderships and draw a consensus for the elections, but PML-N asked for more time, citing the unavailability of ruling alliance members.

During the hearing, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial remarked that the Elections Act, 2017 clearly states that the president can announce the date for elections.

Since the dissolution of the assemblies, the governors of both provinces and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) are reluctant to announce a date for general elections in the provinces. After both parties remained failed to fulfill their duties, President Arif Alvi unilaterally announced that polls will be held in April – a move that was widely criticised by the government of coalition parties.

During the hearing, the five-judge bench heard arguments from Barrister Ali Zafar, the counsel of speakers of both provinces, who filed a petition over delay in elections.

When the hearing began, CJP Bandial shared that four judges had distanced themselves from the bench, adding that the rest of the members will continue to hear the case for the interpretation of the Constitution.  

Following this, Zafar started his arguments by stating that the Punjab chief minister had sent the summary for the dissolution of the assembly to the governor. However, the governor did not sign the summary and the assembly automatically dissolved 48 hours after he refused to sign it.

As per the Constitution, the election should be held not more than 90 days after the dissolution of the assembly, he said, adding that the Punjab Assembly was dissolved on Jan 14. He informed the bench the matter was later taken to the Lahore High Court (LHC), which ordered the ECP to hold consultation with the governor to decide a date for election. But the meeting remained inconclusive.

"Can the elections be delayed by someone?" Justice Mazhar asked. To this, Zafar said no one could delay the elections as per the Constitution.

Justice Mazhar remarked ping pong was being played over the announcement of election date.

At one point, CJP Bandial asked reason for a long adjournment of an intra-court appeal in LHC. To this, Advocate Azhar Siddique told the court that the ECP had sought time to submit a reply to the LHC and hence, the hearing was adjourned.

He said a contempt of court plea was also filed on February 14 in the LHC and the ECP was yet to submit its response

Justice Akhtar also discussed the situation in KP. At this, Zafar said the assembly had been dissolved by the governor but he asked the electoral body to hold consultations with the stakeholders. He said the governor had not given a date for elections so far and cited security reasons in his letter.

Meanwhile, the lawyer representing the ECP told the bench that three constitutional pleas were pending in the Peshawar High Court (PHC).

At this, CJP Bandial inquired why had the high court issued a 21-day notice to the parties.

At one point, CJP Bandial said that the parliament has clearly written in the elections act that the president can also issue the election's date. He said it is yet to see what the president can consult with the ECP.

The CJP said the top court wanted to wrap up the case tomorrow and adjourned hearing till 9:30pm tomorrow.

Daily Pakistan Global Web Desk

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PKR exchange rate to US dollar, Euro, Pound, Dirham, and Riyal - 13 April 2024 Forex Rates

Pakistani currency remains largely same against US dollar and other currencies in open market on April 13, 2024.

US Dollar rate in Pakistan

On Saturday, the US dollar was being quoted at 277.4 for buying and 280.65 for selling.

Euro was quoted at 299.95 for buying and 302.9 for selling while British Pound stands at 349.5 for buying, and 353 for selling.

UAE Dirham AED was at 75.45 and Saudi Riyal's new rates was at 73.30. 

Today’s currency exchange rates in Pakistan - 12 April 2024

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