Wednesday’s divided Supreme Court ruling ordered Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Punjab assembly elections within 90 days.
In today’s suo motu notice judgement, Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial issued the order.
After hearings on Monday and Tuesday, CJP Bandial’s five-member bench of Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Shah, and Justice Mandokhail reserved the decision.
In a three-two split judgement, the bench granted relief to the petitioners while two members objected to the pleas’ admissibility. The dissidents are Justice Jamal Mandokhail and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah.
The SC ruled that the Constitution allows 60–90 days to hold elections when legislatures are dissolved and that general elections are distinct.
CJP Bandial said that elections must be held within 90 days after assembly dissolution.
Within the governor signed the summary, the KP Assembly was dissolved, while the Punjab Assembly disbanded on its own after 48 hours.
The top court took suo motu notice of the election date problem and who should set it if the provincial legislatures are dissolved: the president, governors, or the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
The court reserved its ruling at 6:30pm Tuesday after two days of hearings.
The top court had also directed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the governing coalition to agree on a mutual poll date, but the counsel for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) informed the court that political parties should not set election dates.
However, the Pakistan Muslim League-(PML-N) Nawaz’s counsel requested the court to extend the proceedings because the coalition partners required more time to discuss.
After President Arif Alvi announced the date of voting, the SC took suo motu notice of an apparent delay in the elections of the two legislatures on February 23, drawing severe criticism from the administration.
According to the CJP, the suo motu notice was taken to determine who may set the election date and who had the constitutional duty to hold elections.
Four justices issued opposing comments following the February 23 first hearing, objecting to the bench’s composition and suo motu power under Article 184(3).
The chief judge was asked to assemble a fresh bench by Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Yahya Afridi, and Justice Athar Minallah.
Justices Ijazul Ahsan, Afridi, Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, and Minallah all recused themselves.