Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial has emphasized that it is their constitutional duty, not a matter of preference, to make sure elections take place within 90 days of the dissolution of the legislature as tensions between the judiciary and executive over the scheduling of Punjab Assembly elections rise. Bandial made these remarks at a ceremony in Lahore honoring former Chief Justice Alvin Robert Cornelius, a member of the Christian minority who served from 1960 to 1968.
The Constitution must be upheld, and courts cannot do nothing. This announcement coincides with the ongoing dispute over holding elections within the required 90-day period between the government, which is led by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), and the three-member bench, which is presided over by the CJP.
The Supreme Court will rely on the Constitution to enforce its decision to hold Punjab elections on May 14 if negotiations between the government and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) fail, CJP Bandial stated during the most recent hearing on Friday. Imran Khan, the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, responded by announcing that his party would hold daily rallies until May 14, when the elections are scheduled in accordance with the Supreme Court’s directive.
Imran urged the nation to support the Constitution and stand up to forces trying to intimidate and discredit judges while speaking to party members in Lahore. Chief Justice Bandial asked for support not for the Supreme Court but for anyone standing up for the law and the Constitution, alluding to the ongoing crisis without mentioning any specific individuals.
Bandial reaffirmed that upholding the Constitution is the Supreme Court’s main duty and that the court’s judgments are final unless appealed. He called for the full and excuse-free implementation of the Constitution.
The Chief Justice also stated that political leaders are currently negotiating to end the impasse over holding elections concurrently and that the nation’s institutions, citizens, and leaders are committed to upholding the Constitution. Bandial suggested prayer and restraint in response to the recent audio leaks that targeted politicians, judges, and their families.
It’s important to remember that the government and PTI sought to agree on a date for the elections during their five formal and informal rounds of negotiation. The parties to the negotiations failed to come to an agreement despite agreeing on a common date and sent the Supreme Court separate reports.