Justice Athar Minallah of the Supreme Court has released his detailed note on the suo motu notice proceedings on the delay in holding polls in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, revealing that the case was dismissed 4-3. The Chief Justice of Pakistan had taken suo motu notice of the polls in February, citing a “lack of clarity” on the matter.
Justice Minallah agreed with Justices Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and Jamal Khan Mandokhail, who penned the dissenting note in the case, stating that the court must always “show extreme restraint in matters which involve political stakeholders.” He also questioned the move to dissolve provincial assemblies and asked if such conduct is in “consonance with the scheme of constitutional democracy.”
The government has called on Justice Bandial to resign, accusing him of becoming “controversial.” Justice Bandial had constituted a nine-member bench to hear the case, but later split it into a five-member bench.
The court’s written order, which was dictated in open court on February 23, raised objections from Justice Mandokhail to the initiation of the proceedings under Article 184(3). The Feb 27 order of the bench, signed by nine judges, referred the matter back to the top judge, keeping in view the previous order, additional notes, and discussions made in the anteroom of the apex court.
The case highlights the political and legal complexities of holding provincial elections in Pakistan. It also underscores the importance of judicial restraint and the need to ensure that the judiciary remains independent and impartial in matters that involve political stakeholders.
Ultimately, it is up to the people of Pakistan to decide who they want to represent them in the provincial assemblies. The role of the judiciary is to ensure that the election process is free and fair and that the constitutional rights of all citizens are protected. By showing restraint and impartiality, the judiciary can help to build public trust in the democratic process and ensure that the rule of law is upheld.