ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold Presidential election on Tuesday, July 30 instead of August 6.
A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry including Justice Jawad S. Khawaja and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed heard the petition of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) Chairman Raja Zafar-ul-Haq regarding holding of presidential election early.
The court also directed ECP to change its schedule and issue a revise schedule according to which filing of nomination papers with the presiding officers at Islamabad and with each of the presiding officer at Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta on July 24, Scrutiny of nomination papers by the Returning Officer at Islamabad on July 26 at 10:00 am, Withdrawal of candidature before the Returning Officer at Islamabad on July 27 Upto 12:00 noon, Publication of the list of validly nominated candidates on July 27 at 5:00 pm and polling day and polling time on July 30 from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm and place of the poll at the Parliament House, Islamabad and four provincial assemblies buildings.
The court in its detailed verdict said that the last 10 days of Ramadan are normally the days of extensive spiritual and religious activity/worship and quite a number of the legislators would be in ‘Aitekaf’ or proceed for Umrah to Saudi Arabia during this period. The detailed verdict further stated that August 6, fall on one of the last three days of Ramadan, probably on 27th day of Ramadan and this would be too close to Eid-ul-Fitr and many Parliamentarians may like to proceed to their home-towns by then.
The court judgment stated that the Constitution guarantees that “the Muslims shall be enabled to order their lives in the individual and collective spheres in accordance with the teachings and requirements of Islam as set out in the Holy Quran and Sunnah”.It stated that if the Presidential elections are held on 6th August, (27th Ramadan), the fundamental rights of the Parliamentarians shall be infringed as they will not be able to participate in the Presidential elections in view of their engagements towards spiritual and religious plans in the last ten days of the Holy month of Ramadan.
Attorney General Munir A. Malik appeared before the court on notice and apprised the bench “there is constitutinal hindrance in holding Presidential Elections early by rescheduling the already announced schedule”.On direction of the court, senior officials of the Election Commission apeared before the bench and apprised the court that there is no hindrance in holding Presidential Elections on July 30, if ECP is allowed by the court to reschedule the election process. Senator Raja Zafar ul Haq of Pakistan Muslim League (N) through his counsel Muhammad Ashraf Gujjar on Tuesday filed a petition in the Supreme Court under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution, praying that the Election Commission be directed to change the Presidential elections schedule from August 6, to July 30. – APP