CJP Bandial-led SC bench takes up elections delay case

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An undated image of Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan, and Justice Munib Akhtar. — SC website

ISLAMABAD: After the unsuccessful conclusion of the talks between the government and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), a three-member Supreme Court bench on Friday resumed the hearing of the Punjab election delay case.

The bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar, is hearing the PTI petition that challenged the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) order to hold Punjab elections in October.

Later, another petition was filed by a citizen, Sardar Kashif Khan, nominating the federal government, the ECP, and major political parties as respondents seeking the holding of polls on the same date across the country.

In the last hearing on April 27, the three-member Supreme Court bench directed the government and PTI to hold talks while making it clear that its April 4 order on Punjab Assembly elections had remained unchanged.

The negotiations — which were held in five formal and informal rounds — aimed at developing a consensus on a date for elections. However, despite agreeing to hold elections on the same date, the negotiating parties failed to reach a consensus on the date and submitted separate reports to the apex court.

On Wednesday, the Imran Khan-led PTI submitted its report to the Supreme Court on negotiations with the Pakistan Democratic Movement-led government, requesting it to ensure implementation of its April 4 judgement regarding holding elections to the Punjab Assembly on May 14.

In the report, the PTI — the main opposition party — apprised the court of progress on negotiations, saying it held three rounds of talks with the team of ruling PDM, an alliance of 13 political parties, in line with the commitment made to the top court in the Punjab elections delay case.

Earlier today, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar also informed the Supreme Court that the ruling alliance “believes that political issues can best be resolved through dialogue and are ready to resume” it in the “larger national interest”.

The government made the assurance in its four-page statement submitted to the court today. Dar submitted the statement on behalf of the government.

More to follow…