ECP submits report in SC as govt fails to provide Punjab election funds

Paramilitary soldiers stand guard outside Pakistans election commission building in Islamabad on August 2, 2022. — AFP
Paramilitary soldiers stand guard outside Pakistan’s election commission building in Islamabad on August 2, 2022. — AFP

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday submitted a report to the Supreme Court on the directives of the three-member bench that directed the electoral body to hold elections in Punjab on May 14.

On April 4, the top court directed the Ministry of Finance to release Rs21 billion to the electoral body by April 10 for polls in Punjab and KP, as per the electoral body’s demand.

The report was submitted to the SC’s Registrar’s Office was in a sealed envelope, which will be sent to the chambers of Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar.

It may be noted that the top court had hinted at giving a suitable ruling in case of non-compliance with the orders.

Despite the orders, the government failed to meet the deadline set by the apex court as the ECP has not yet been financed. Instead of providing the funds in time, the government on Monday tabled a bill seeking approval of funds for the elections in both Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

As per the decision of the federal cabinet, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar introduced the money bill 2023, saying that the government was laying the bill before the house in the light of the Supreme Court orders to release Rs21 billion to the ECP to hold a general election in the two provinces.

The finance minister said the federal cabinet, in its recent meeting, pondered over the SC orders and, in view of the house’s resolution, sought the will of parliament to take a final decision regarding the allocation of funds for the Punjab and KP general election.

In a victory for the former ruling party, the SC had declared the ECP’s decision on the Punjab and KP elections null and void, while ordering it to hold snap polls — a persistent demand forced by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan after he dissolved the assemblies in both the provinces.

The apex court had given the date of May 14 for the polls in Punjab. However, the verdict which was supposed to be a way out of the ongoing political and constitutional crisis further deepened it as the government rejected the SC ruling.

Besides, the money bill, the government also stresses holding the elections in the entire country simultaneously. On Monday, the parliament’s joint sitting also adopted a resolution stressing the holding of general elections of the national and the provincial assemblies simultaneously to “strengthen the federation”.

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