SC reserves judgment over high court's jurisdiction in election disputes

CJP says under the law election tribunal is not subordinated to the high courts


Hasnaat Malik September 25, 2014

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved judgement regarding the high court's jurisdiction in entertaining the interim orders of the election tribunals on post-election disputes.

The three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk on Thursday heard a number of identical appeals on poll disputes.

The chief justice observed that in case the window allowing the high court to entertain election disputes is not shut, it would open flood gates of election related cases.

Mulk also said that under the law, election tribunal is not subordinated to the high courts but it is also a constitutional institution.

The CJ, while referring to Article 203, said that the high court can only monitor the lower courts concerned.

Justice Gulzar Ahmed observed that jurisdiction of the election tribunals were for a limited time since it has to decide matters in four months.

“If the election disputes are not decided in 120 days and remained undecided for pendency in high courts or the apex courts, the entire scheme of law would be frustrated”, he added.

Further, Justice Amir Hani Muslim said that the purpose of the election tribunal was to decide the elections disputes immediately.

However, representing the government, Deputy Attorney General Khawaja Ahmed Hosain supported the high court’s jurisdiction to entertain appeals against the tribunal’s interim orders.

“The window of opportunity available with the litigants at the interim stage by approaching the high courts should not be shut,” he argued.

The tribunals in some of its interim orders directed verification of thumb impressions of voters in certain polling stations in various constituencies. The successful candidates challenged the interim orders of different tribunals before the respective high courts.

However, the high courts rejected these petitions on the grounds that they do not have the jurisdiction to entertain interlocutory orders of the tribunals in view of the constitutional bar under Article 225 of the Constitution which only empowers the tribunals to determine controversies relating to the post election litigations.

The questions which came up during the proceedings needing interpretation of the Supreme Court were: whether Article 225 ousts the jurisdiction of the high court with regard to post election disputes and whether the bar contained in Article 225 is absolute. Also, whether the jurisdiction of the high court under Article 199 of the constitution can be exercised against interlocutory orders passed by the election tribunal during the trial.

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