What is there to decide?
By Justice Markandey Katju
Art. 224 (2) of the Pakistan Constitution states: When the National Assembly or a Provincial Assembly is dissolved, a general election to the Assembly shall be held within a period of ninety days after the dissolution, and the results of the election shall be declared not later than fourteen days after the conclusion of the polls.
Thus, the Pakistan Constitution is absolutely clear - elections must be held within 90 days of the dissolution of the assembly.
The Punjab and KP Assemblies were dissolved on 18th January 2023. Hence the elections to these provincial Assemblies had to be held by the 18th of April. However, the Election Commission of Pakistan fixed the elections for 30th April, and now they have been further postponed for 8th October. How could this be legally done? Is the ECP above the Constitution?
The other reason given for the postponement is that the security situation in Pakistan. does not allow it.
Both these reasons are specious, preposterous, and egregious.
There is no mention in Article 224(2) that elections can be postponed for these reasons. In fact if these are accepted, no elections in Pakistan need ever be held.
As regards the financial situation, nowhere in the world, neither in the USA nor in the UK, France, India etc. are elections postponed for this reason. It is true that the financial situation in Pakistan is bad. But surely there is money enough to pay salaries to the millions of civil servants, military personnel, judges, ministers, police, etc. How can it be said that there is no money to hold elections? This reason is ridiculous, inane and bizarre
As regards security, Pakistan has an army, paramilitary forces, police, etc to ensure fair and orderly elections.
The real reason for the postponement is that the ruling PDM knows it will be wiped out if elections are held, since Imran Khan's popularity has risen sky-high, while PDM leaders are perceived by the Pakistani public as a gang of thieves.
As regards the petition in the Pakistan Supreme Court against the postponement of the elections, the hearing has been going on for the last 5 days, but was there really anything to decide? The 5 Judge bench should have decided it in 5 minutes, as I would have done if I was on it, by saying that Article 224(2) was quite clear, and the postponement of the elections by the ECP was clearly illegal. But instead, the Court has been playing to the galleries and reduced the hearing to a melodrama, comedy, and a farce. The Court has debased and demeaned itself and turned itself into a circus.
(Justice Markandey Katju is an Indian jurist and former Supreme Court judge of India who served as chairman of the Press Council of India. He is the founder and patron of the Indian Reunification Association (IRA), an organisation that advocates for the peaceful reunification of what is now Pakistan and Bangladesh with India under a secular government.)
Original source: Hastakshep News