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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court will resume hearing its suo motu proceedings regarding the delay in the announcement of a date for elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Monday.
A nine-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial and also comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Athar Minallah, will take up the case shortly.
The suo motu notice was taken by the top judge after President Dr Arif Alvi earlier this week unilaterally announced April 9 as the election date in both provinces after his invitation for consultations on the matter was turned down by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
At the previous hearing, the coalition parties — PML-N, PPP and JUI-F — had presented a note in the apex court asking two SC judges, Justice Ahsan and Justice Naqvi, to recuse themselves from the case.
The parties had further said that the two judges should never be part of any bench hearing any case involving these three parties and their leadership.
On Saturday, the coalition government petitioned the Supreme Court for the formation of a full court comprising all judges except Justice Ahsan and Justice Naqvi to conduct the suo motu proceedings.
The joint petition, filed by senior counsel Farooq H. Naek, Mansoor Usman Awan and Kamran Murtaza on behalf of the PPPP, PML-N and JUI-F, respectively, says the prayer has been made “in the best interest of justice and to strengthen the people’s confidence in the Supreme Court”.
It is imperative that the full court — minus the two judges, who have already disclosed their minds in the matter — be constituted to hear the case in the interest of justice and fairness, contends the petition, which has been moved under Order 33 Rule 6 of the Supreme Court Rules 1980.
The petition argued that when the case was taken up by the nine-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial on Feb 23, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail read out a note and raised objections to the effect that since the two-member bench consisting of Justice Ahsan and Justice Naqvi had already rendered a definite opinion on the issue as recorded in the court’s Feb 16 order, it would amount to a violation of Article 10A if they remain part of the larger bench.
Justice Mandokhail, the ruling parties recalled, had further stated that it was not appropriate to refer the matter to the CJP under Article 184(3) and that the suo motu action taken by the latter was not justified. Later, the Supreme Court on the same date issued notices to the relevant stakeholders and that the applicants appeared before the court on Feb 24 through their counsel and read a joint statement, seeking the recusal of Justice Ahsan and Justice Naqvi from any matter involving the PPPP, PML-N and JUI-Pakistan and their leadership.
According to the petition, these circumstances have raised several questions of immense legal, constitutional and public importance as recorded in the CJP’s note while invoking suo motu jurisdiction.
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