Counsel from the Prime Minister The Supreme Court found that the Prime Minister’s counsel is not required before the President sets the date for the next election, despite the President having a constitutional duty to do so under Section 57(1).
Pakistani Supreme Court
The Pakistani Supreme Court ruled in a suo motu case that the country’s president need not take the prime minister’s advice when setting the election date for the provincial assemblies of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).
The five-judge bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, headed by Chief Justice Justice Umar Ata Bandial and consisting of Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, ruled in a 57-page verdict that the president has the authority to act independently while carrying out a constitutional duty and responsibility under Section 57(1).
The judgement stated,
“The president is empowered to act on his own and is not bound by advice in the constitutional sense in exercising the power conferred by S. 57(1) and thereby discharging a constitutional obligation and responsibility.”
The ruling alliance parties rejected President Dr. Arif Alvi’s February announcement of April 9 as the date for holding votes in KP and Punjab in the face of delays from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
When asked about the president’s authority to set the election date on February 27th, CJP Bandial pointed out that parliament had explicitly stated in the Elections Act, 2017 that the president can do so. The Chief Justice of Pakistan spoke at a suo motu hearing on the elections in KP and Punjab.
Following a directive from the Supreme Court in March, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) submitted dates for the election in the province, and within hours of that proposal, the president set April 30 as the day for the general polls in Punjab.
Meanwhile, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court presided over by CJP Bandial and including Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar ruled that the ECP’s choice to hold elections on October 8 rather than April 30 was unconstitutional.
“Neither the Constitution nor the law empowers the commission to extend the date of elections beyond the 90 days period as provided in Article 224(2) of the Constitution,” the judgement stated.
Supreme Court has declared
The Supreme Court made the point in its ruling today that the President does not only speak for others, but rather acts independently in carrying out his constitutional duties.
Supreme Court has declared that the president’s choice of election date is “not a mere formality but a substantive act”Supreme Court wrote, “The order of the president dated 20.02.2023 is constitutionally competent and subject to what is observed below, it is hereby affirmed insofar as it applies to the Punjab Assembly; but the same is constitutionally invalid insofar as it applies to the KP Assembly, and is therefore hereby set aside.
” Therefore, the governor of KP province is not upholding his constitutional duty because he has not set a date for the general election to the Assembly of that Province.
The highest court also ruled that the governor of KP had failed to fulfil his constitutional duty by failing to schedule provincial elections.