PHC dismisses PTI plea for polls under judicial supervision

Apex court suspended LHC decision on ROs’ appointments from civil bureaucracy

Our Correspondent January 26, 2024
A lawyer walks past in front of the Peshawar High Court building. PHOTO: AFP


The Peshawar High Court on Thursday dismissed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) petition seeking holding the general elections 2024 under the supervision of the judiciary.

A division bench of the PHC comprising Chief Justice Ibrahim Khan and Justice Shakeel Ahmad announced the verdict that was reserved on Dec 18, 2023.

The petition, filed by a lawyer associated with the PTI, had raised questions over the transparency of the election slated for Feb 8, following the appointment of election supervisors from civil bureaucracy.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Dec 12, 2023 announced appointing district returning officers (DROs), returning officers (ROs) and assistant returning officers (AROs) from the bureaucracy.

However, the PTI alleged that deputy commissioners and assistant commissioners were issuing 3-MPO (Section-3 of the Maintenance of Public Ordinance) orders to detain its leaders, including contesting candidates.

During the Dec 18 hearing, the PHC chief justice stated that the district administration issued over 700 detention orders in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa alone. He noted that 147 MPO orders were issued in Peshawar alone.

Read PHC seeks K-P govt’s reply by Feb 6

“Deputy commissioners in 24 K-P districts seemed to be waiting for issuing orders for detention of members of a particular party. Can transparent elections occur in such circumstances?” he asked.

However, Justice Ahmed asked if the PHC could proceed with the hearing in the case after the recent Supreme Court decision.
“The Supreme Court has clarified many important points in its decision on December 15,” he said.

The former ruling party also challenged the ECP decision in the Lahore High Court (LHC), which on Dec 14 nullified the ECP decision of appointing election supervisors from the civil bureaucracy.

Soon after the judgment, the electoral watchdog went to the Supreme Court against the decision. A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa and comprising justices Mansoor Ali Shah and Sardar Tariq Masood, conducted hearing on the petition filed by the ECP on Dec 15.

The top court, in its order, termed the LHC’s order “irresponsible” that was delivered in “haste”. It directed the high court not to proceed further on the PTI’s petition.

The apex court also issued a contempt notice to the PTI’s lawyer who had filed the petition in the LHC. The apex court stated that it had stipulated that, “no one should be allowed to put forward any pretext to derail democracy”.


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