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After SC ruling, ECP announces polls in Punjab on May 14

ISLAMABAD: Amid controversy over the Supreme Court ruling that declared the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) order to postpone elections in Punjab as “unconstitutional”, the electoral body on Wednesday announced the holding of polls on May 14 as directed by the top court.

The ECP took the decision in an emergency meeting held today for consultations on the SC verdict. Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja chaired the session.

After SC ruling, ECP announces polls in Punjab on May 14
SC orders polling in Punjab on May 14

The Supreme Court on Tuesday voided the ECP’s decision on Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) elections. A three-member SC bench comprising Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan announced the decision in open court and declared the ECP’s decision to hold polls on October 8 as “unconstitutional”.

The apex court directed the ECP to reinstate its previous election schedule under which polls were to be held and extended it by 13 days.

The Supreme Court also clarified that the ECP could not go beyond the 90-day stipulated time and stated that 13 days were wasted because of the ECP’s unlawful decision.

The court also directed the caretaker government in Punjab to assist the ECP and instructed the commission to inform it if the government refused to do so.

The Constitution and laws of the election commission did not allow an extension of the date, it added.

According to the decision, candidates would be able to submit nomination papers from April 10, the electoral body would publish the list of candidates on April 19, and electoral symbols would be issued by April 20.

The court also directed the government to release Rs21 billion for elections in Punjab by April 10 and told the ECP to submit a report on the matter in court the same day. In the case of non-provision of funds, the court will issue an appropriate order, it added.

PM calls SC ruling ‘murder of justice’
In his reaction, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif equated the judicial murder of former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto with the verdict of the apex court and said that it was ironic that the ex-premier was judicially murdered on April 4 and once again on the same day justice was “murdered”.

Speaking in the National Assembly, the prime minister said the cabinet meeting had demanded that the reference over the judicial murder of the late premier pending for the last 12 years should be taken up and decided by the full court.

“The world knows that ZAB’s case was a judicial murder as one of the former judges who had decided the case, had accepted it in his memoirs,” he said.

Praising ZAB, PM Shehbaz said he was among the founders of the 1973 Constitution and his historic contribution would always be remembered.

“The events that took place in the past 72 hours are tantamount to the murder of justice.”

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