Two judges’ opinion not relevant in this matter, CJP tells top law officer

Our Correspondent
Wednesday, Mar 29, 2023

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court’s Tuesday’s hearing into PTI petitions challenging the postponement of date for the election in Punjab did not turn out to be heartening for the newly-appointed Attorney General (AG) Mansoor Usman Awan as the Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial told him that he did not start his arguments well.

The AG, while questioning the maintainability of the petitions, contended that the matters related to the elections should be referred to the Lahore High Court (LHC) after two apex court judges issued their detailed opinion wherein they held that the earlier suo motu in the matter was dismissed 4-3.

The chief justice replied that the apex court order of March 1 was implemented in letter and spirit and in pursuance of the court’s order, the president announced the date for holding the election in Punjab.

The CJP, on the question of maintainability of the petitions, told the AG that he could formulate his arguments and ask questions and the counsel for the petitioners would better answer the questions as well.

The attorney general submitted that the LHC had not given the president the authority to announce the election date. He requested the court to constitute a full bench for hearing the matter in hand.

The chief justice told the AG that the proceedings before the apex court were not related to the fixing of the date for the elections but relates to cancellation of the date by the ECP, which was earlier announced by the President of Pakistan.

“And whether the Election Commission was competent to do so, then the court will look into the law as well,” he told the AG.

Mansoor Awan submitted that the two judges of the apex court had given their verdict on the matter earlier. The chief justice, however, observed that the opinion expressed by the two judges was not relevant in this matter.

The AG, however, again stressed that if the verdict was 3-4, then the ‘breached’ orders do not exist, adding that if there were no court orders, then the president had no authority to give an election date. “Let the court should first settle the issue of apex court March 1 order,” the AGP contended.

The chief justice, however, told the AGP that his course of arguments at the initial stage was not good. “I expect you to frame serious questions,” the CJP told the AGP.

Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel observed that the matter pertaining to order of March 1 of the apex court was an internal matter.

“Who has the authority to extend the date for elections?” Justice Mandokhel asked the AG, adding that it is the court to examine as to whether the ECP was competent to extend the date for the elections.

The chief justice said that he appreciated the clarification made by learned member of the bench.