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We are sitting here with a clean heart: CJP



Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial remarked on Tuesday that the apex court had a “clean heart” and would not use the past against the government.

The Chief Justice of Pakistan made his comments as the Supreme Court began hearing the review petition the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) filed to challenge its order ordering elections in Punjab on May 14.

The same bench that issued the initial order on April 4—composed of CJP Bandial, Justice Munib Akhtar, and Justice Ijazul Ahsan—is hearing the appeal. The bench noted during the hearing yesterday that the rights of the residents of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were related to the elections. It also questioned why the ECP’s argument that choosing the election date fell outside the apex court’s purview had not been brought up earlier and if any other institution had compelled the electoral watchdog to do so.

The ECP counsel Sajeel Shahryar Swati submitted that the reasons would be cleared after the detailed judgment comes in the instant matter.

Meanwhile, the PTI had submitted its response to the review petition, urging the bench to discard it and ensure elections in the province.

At the outset of the hearing, Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan came to the rostrum and began to present his arguments. He said that some of the court’s remarks day earlier left a “wrong impression”.

“It was asked in the court yesterday why the Election Commission did not raise the points earlier,” he said, adding that the bench had also remarked that the federal government had previously been arguing that the decision to hold elections was a “minority verdict”.

In response to these issues, the attorney general said: “The point that the election of the National Assembly will be affected if there are elections in a province was raised earlier.”

He added that the point that the federal government considered the 4/3 verdict to be a minority verdict was also raised beforehand.

Hearing these remarks, CJP Bandial said: “We were happy yesterday that legal points were presented before the court, yesterday. You do not need to panic.”

He assured the attorney general that the apex court would consider any reasonable point raised before taking a decision.

“Legal points were raised earlier in the court but not discussed,” he said, adding that there was a discussion on the jurisdiction of review in the court yesterday.

“The past will not be used against the government,” he said, stressing on the court’s impartiality.

“You tell your colleagues not to speak so harshly at our door […] the largest House. We work for Allah, that’s why we are sitting quietly,” the CJP remarked.

He then told the AGP to tell “whoever” had asked him to give a clarification, that the court is sitting with a “clean heart”.

“The statements given in other contexts were reported in a way that they gave the wrong impression,” he said, regretting that the court’s remarks were reported incorrectly.

CJP Bandial remarked that it was reported that the court had given Imran Khan a Mercedes.

“Mr, I don’t even use a Mercedes,” he said, adding that the PRO also told that the police arranged a bulletproof Mercedes for Khan but the matter was twisted into something else.

The electoral watchdog had filed a review petition in the apex court against its order passed on April 4, setting May 14 as the date for holding elections in the province of Punjab.

In its petition, the electoral body had maintained that while such power exists elsewhere under the Constitution, it does not lie in a court of law and there is inherent wisdom in this division of power.

It had further submitted that under the Constitution, the power of the announcement of the date for the general elections is vested in bodies other than any judicial institution; therefore, the impugned order under review had “breached the salient principle of the trichotomy of powers and thus is not sustainable”.

Elections — principally a domain of the election commission under Article 218(3) of the Constitution read with other provisions of the Constitution — is the sole responsibility of the Election Commission of Pakistan, the ECP had contended.

Moreover, the ECP had submitted that in the presence of an elected government in Punjab, the general elections to the National Assembly cannot be conducted fairly.

“Fair elections cannot take place in the presence of an elected government in Punjab”, the review petition had stated adding that the voter/electorate is likely to vote in favour of the candidates of the political party which has the elected government in Punjab.

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