The Supreme Court has underscored the critical importance of prioritizing general elections over constituency delimitation issues, warning against the potential governance vacuum and legitimacy crisis that could ensue from postponing elections. Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, in a decision on December 18, emphasized the need for proportional action and the greater good of the populace. He articulated that the principles of democracy demand the importance of general elections to avoid a situation contrary to democratic ideals. The judge expressed concerns that any delay in resolving election-related litigation could undermine democratic governance and erode public confidence in the electoral process.
“When the election program is announced, it is important for any litigation or legal challenges related to elections to be resolved promptly,” Justice Shah asserted. He urged a pragmatic approach where issues about the delimitation of constituencies, while crucial, should be addressed after the elections. This approach, he argued, ensures the continuity of democratic governance and upholds the fundamental rights of the electorate. Justice Shah noted that while adjustments in constituency boundaries might be necessary, they should not impede the electoral process.
The three-judge bench, headed by Justice Sardar Tariq Masood and including Justice Athar Minallah, abstained from involving the apex court in disputes related to delimitation in Balochistan. The decision stemmed from an appeal filed by Gul Khan against the Balochistan High Court’s order, which had declared the Election Commission of Pakistan’s delimitation order void on December 12. Justice Shah emphasized the potential consequences of delaying elections or prolonging legal disputes, citing possible impacts on public confidence, political stability, and the democratic system.
“Democracy rests on the sovereignty of the people, exercised through free and fair elections held regularly,” Justice Shah asserted. He highlighted the central importance of elections in maintaining a democratic government, emphasizing that they are crucial for upholding democratic principles and ensuring leadership accountability to the public.
In the detailed order, Justice Shah expounded on the significance of general elections as the cornerstone of representative governance. He underscored their role in allowing people to choose their leaders and influence policy decisions, emphasizing that periodic elections are not just procedural necessities but fundamental principles that uphold democratic ethos. However, he also acknowledged that constituency delimitation, while vital for fair representation, does not hold the same immediacy or overriding importance as the conduct of general elections.