PML-N, PPP, JUI pray Supreme Court to remove two judges from bench

Joint statement of PML-N, PPP, JUI presented in court: Larger nine-judge SC bench adjourns hearing on the suo motu proceedings pertaining to delay in announcement of date for polls in Punjab and KP till Monday: Chief Justice Bandial remarks it is CJP’s di

February 25, 2023 01:04 AM

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has adjourned the hearing on its suo motu proceedings pertaining to the delay in the announcement of a date for polls in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa till Monday, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

At the outset of the hearing, Farooq H Naek raised an objection over the inclusion of Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi in the bench. 

Naek submitted a joint written statement of the PPP, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam to the court.

According to the statement read out by Naek, the court was prayed for the recusal of Justice Ahsan and Justice Naqvi. 

Since the suo motu notice was taken on the request of these two judges, so they should recuse themselves from the bench, the statement said adding that both the judges had expressed their opinion in this regard in their Feb 16 order. 

Naek said that it was a matter of concern that such a decision came when they were hearing Ghulam Mehmood Dogar's plea regarding his removal as Lahore police chief.

The statement went on to say that according to the note by Justice Mandokhail, both judges should not be the part of the bench as per the demands of justice and for the sake of a fair trial. 

So, Justice Ijaz and Justice Naqvi should not hear any case which pertains to PML-N, PPP and JUI, the statement concluded. 

On this, Justice Minallah asked the lawyer if he felt there was a need to form a full court for the case. 

Naek replied that the matter of the election was of public [importance] there should be full court on this.

CJP Bandial, however, remarked that the court would hear all matters on Monday during its detailed hearing. 

The lawyer of Awami Muslim League Chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said that judiciary was being humiliated in media. He said no political party could ask for the inclusion of judges of its own choice. He called upon the bench to take notice of the contempt of judges. 

Justice Mandokhail said that the political matters should be resolved in parliament. The judge asked Naek why he didn’t tell his parties not to bring this matter to court. 

Naek assured the judge that he would talk to his party on this matter. 

The PPP lawyer also shared the dissenting note of Justice Mandokhail.

CJP Bandial remarked that Justice Mandokhail’s note was very important. “How did you get it? This note is part of that written order which has not been signed yet,” the CJP wondered.  

The top judge said that the decision of two-judge bench came on February 16 and the suo motu notice of the matter was taken on Feb 22. 

CJP Bandial said that it is the discretion of the chief justice of Pakistan to exercise suo motu power. He went on to say that under Article 184-3, speakers’ petitions have also been fixed for hearing today. He said that the court is also looking into legal points raised in the speakers’ petitions. 

The CJP remarked that several serious matters raised ahead of the suo motu notice taken by this court. First, the president announced the polls date and secondly, the speakers filed petitions. 

He said: “Usually citizens come to the court for justice. But do you know, this time, the Constitutions knocks at the door of court!” 

The chief justice of Pakistan took suo motu notice of the matter after President Dr Arif Alvi earlier this week unilaterally announced April 9 as the election date in both provinces after his invitation for consultations on the matter was rejected by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

During its hearing on Thursday, the court issued notices to Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Shehzad Ata Elahi, Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the government through the cabinet secretary, chief secretaries of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), all the advocate generals of the provinces, and the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), directing them to come up with their ‘skeleton arguments’ on Friday (today) as the court would hear the case in detail on Monday.

The court did not issue a notice to the president or the governors of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as they are protected by Article 248 of the Constitution. The court, however, said that they could file their case if they wanted to. 

At the outset of yesterday’s proceedings, Justice Bandial noted that the court had to look into three things and maintained that the time for provincial elections was running out. CJP Bandial remarked that there were three questions whose answers the SC was seeking: 

First, Article 224 of the constitution says elections should be held within 90 days of the dissolution of an assembly. Time is passing rapidly. The president has announced the date for elections in two provinces under section 57 of the Election Act. But there are ambiguities in the section. We have to determine who has the power to give the election date following the dissolution of an assembly;

Second, how and when is this constitutional responsibility to be discharged?

Third, what are the constitutional responsibilities and duties of the federation and the province with regard to the holding of the general election?

However, during Thursday’s proceedings, the bench seemed to be at odds as Justice Mandokhel expressed his reservations over the suo motu notice of the matter. Whereas two other judges, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Minallah were unsure if the chief minister of a province could act on the direction of a political party leader. They raised questions behind the motive to dissolve assemblies. 


Reporters Amanat Gishkori and Ehtisham Kiyani

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