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Chief Justice of Pakistan Appreciates Government’s Willingness to Engage in Dialogue in Punjab Polls Case


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In a significant development, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial has commended the government’s change of heart in engaging in dialogue through the court regarding the Punjab polls case. Concurrently, the Supreme Court (SC) has allowed objections raised against the SC (Review of Judgments and Orders) Act 2023 by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) counsel Ali Zafar. The court will commence daily hearings on the matter from June 13.

A three-member bench, led by CJP Bandial and including Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhter, was presiding over petitions seeking a review of its previous orders mandating elections in Punjab on May 14. Both the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the federal government challenged the court’s verdict.

During the proceedings, the court issued notices to relevant parties, including the Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Awan, and adjourned the proceedings until the following week.

The adjournment occurred last week after the state’s top law officer revealed the enactment of a new law that expanded the scope of review petitions. The PTI challenged this law, deeming it contradictory to the Constitution.

At the recent hearing, Justice Akhtar raised concerns about proceeding with petitions related to the Punjab Assembly elections delay due to the existence of the SC (Review of Judgments and Orders) Act 2023. The PTI’s lawyer requested the court not to allow the right to appeal granted under Clause 5 of the new law in the Punjab elections case. He expressed confidence that the court would declare the law null and void, emphasizing that the case should be decided under the old law if the new law were upheld.

CJP Bandial acknowledged the ECP’s strong arguments regarding the provision of justice, emphasizing the national significance of the case. However, he questioned whether the directives of constitutional traditions could be overruled and noted the existence of limits to appeals despite the expanded scope of the review provided by the new law.

The CJP also highlighted the importance of expediting the Punjab polls matter, considering the consequences of the events that have unfolded. The court expressed its dissatisfaction with the protests held by PDM parties outside the court premises, considering them an obstruction to the delivery of justice.

As a result, the apex court decided to consolidate petitions challenging the SC (Review of Judgments and Orders) Act 2023 with an ECP review petition against its April 4 order.

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