The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday sought replies from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and principal secretary to Punjab governor by February 3 on a petition filed by PTI seeking the announcement of date for polls in the province.
LHC Justice Jawad Hassan heard the plea filed by PTI Secretary General Asad Umar.
The former ruling party leader had requested the court to direct Punjab Governor Balighur Rehman to immediately announce the date of elections in Punjab.
As the proceedings started, PTI's counsel Barrister Ali Zafar contended that polls must be held within 90 days after the dissolution of the assembly.
Despite the passage of several days, the governor did not bother to announce the election date, he said.
The PTI lawyer maintained that the ECP had already written a letter to the governor, however, he was yet to respond to the election supervisor. "On this issue, the ECP also stands with us," he said.
Justice Hassan agreed on the timeframe prescribed for holding the elections but asked that "the question is who is announcing them" and told the PTI to include the ECP as a party to the case.
Abiding by the court’s directives, Barrister Zafar made ECP respondent in the case.
The judge noted that the PTI in its petition had sought direction for the governor to announce the date of elections but Balighur Rehman had not approved the advice sent by the chief minister to dissolve the assembly as a result of which the assembly stood dissolved automatically within a specific period.
But the Constitution says that the governor has to fulfill his constitutional responsibility, Barrister Zafar responded.
Justice Hassan remarked that elections should be held within 90 days and that the court would see who would conduct it.
He asked Umar what the Constitution said on the issue.
The PTI leader expressed his concern over the governor's delay in the matter and said that the “Constitution was very clear on the issue”.
Justice Hassan expressed his displeasure over the Punjab governor’s lawyer for not coming prepared in the case. “Did the PTI and ECP write to the governor?” he asked. “What’s your viewpoint?”
The counsel sought time for coming prepared with arguments.
The comments irked the judge, asking, “What are you talking?”
“Did you not read the case? You people do not look serious on this matter,” the judge said.
“This case was filed on Saturday but you did not bother to go through it,” he remarked.
Justice Hassan observed that the matter not only concerned the PTI but pertained to “Pakistan and its democracy”.
Meanwhile, the PTI has decided to approach the Peshawar High Court (PHC) against the governor for not giving a date for elections after the dissolution of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly.
The petition will be filed through Barrister Gohar.
A parliamentary party meeting of the PTI was held in Peshawar on Sunday where decisions regarding future political course of action were taken.
PTI spokesperson Shaukat Yousafzai maintained that the PTI would approach the court against the governor for not announcing the date of the elections.
The petition will be filed on behalf of Asad Umar and K-P Provincial President Pervez Khattak.
The petition will request the court to direct the ECP to announce the date of general elections in the entire country instead of conducting by-polls on 33 vacant seats of the National Assembly.
With input from our Peshawar correspondent
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