The Supreme Court of Pakistan is scheduled to review a plea from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) today. The ECP is contesting the Supreme Court’s April 4 mandate to hold elections in Punjab by May 14, a deadline that expired yesterday.
Previously, the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, ruled the ECP’s plan to postpone elections to October 8 as “illegal.” Instead, the court instructed the ECP to conduct the Punjab polls by May 14.
The ECP responded by requesting the Supreme Court to reconsider its order. In its 14-page appeal, the ECP argued that the judiciary lacks the authority to set election dates, a power the ECP says resides elsewhere under the Constitution.
The ECP also accused the Supreme Court of overstepping its constitutional jurisdiction, claiming the court had assumed the role of a public body in dictating an election date. The ECP seeks court intervention to correct an error that has disrupted established constitutional jurisprudence.
In April, the Supreme Court directed the State Bank of Pakistan to release Rs21 billion to the ECP to facilitate the May 14 elections. However, the ECP informed the court that it had not yet received the necessary funds.
Chief Justice Bandial suggested that the court could amend the election date if all political parties agreed. However, subsequent negotiations between the ruling Pakistan Democratic Movement and the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf failed to achieve consensus. The PTI has since submitted a report to the Supreme Court, urging the enforcement of its April 4 judgment to hold the Punjab Assembly elections on May 14.
The Punjab Assembly was dissolved in January under the instruction of PTI Chairman Imran Khan to press the ruling coalition into conducting snap polls. The federal government, however, insists that the elections will take place in October or November this year. The Supreme Court had previously ruled the ECP’s decision to delay the Punjab polls to October unconstitutional.