Punjab polls: Hearing for petition against SC Act and ECP plea indefinitely adjourned

The Supreme Court (SC) indefinitely adjourned without any proceedings on Thursday a hearing involving elections in Punjab that included several petitions and an Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) plea.

Earlier this week, an SC bench had decided to club together the ECP’s petition against an April ruling directing the government to hold polls for the Punjab Assembly on May 14 with petitions that have been filed against the recently-enacted Supreme Court (Review of Judgments and Orders) Act 2023.

Wednesday’s hearing

On Wednsday, an eight-member bench comprising the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Ayesha Malik, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi and Justice Shahid Waheed took up the case.

Bandial said “the court will try to make a decision on the ECP plea for reviewing the verdict on the Punjab elections at the earliest”.

The chief justice observed that the government and all the constitutional institutions are showing maturity; otherwise, they had protested in front of the Supreme Court to hamper the process of justice. Now they wanted to proceed with the cases in accordance with the law, adding now their thinking is not arithmetic (that five-member or larger bench hears the cases).

The Supreme Court (Review of Judgements and Orders) Bill, 2023 was passed by the National Assembly on April 15 and it is aimed at giving a right of appeal under Article 184 of the constitution – a right which was not available in the past.

The bill states that a review petition may be filed within 60 days of the passing of the original order.

The statement of objects and reasons of the bill, “it is necessary to ensure the fundamental right to justice by providing for meaningful review of judgments and orders passed by Supreme Court of Pakistan in exercise of its original jurisdiction under Article 184”.