CJP Qazi Faez Isa Defends Judicial Decisions On Elections And Electoral Reforms

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ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa has staunchly defended the recent decisions taken by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, including the mandate to hold general elections in 2024 and the withdrawal of the electoral symbol from a major political party just days before the polls. He highlighted these points in a detailed letter addressed to Jane Marriott, the British High Commissioner to Pakistan, with copies sent to UK Supreme Court President Lord Robert John Reed and England and Wales Lady Chief Justice Baroness Sue Lascelles Carr.

The letter, dated May 3 but made public only on Wednesday, was a response to Marriott’s remarks at the Asma Jehangir Conference held in Lahore last month. In it, CJP Isa addressed concerns raised by Marriott regarding democracy, elections, and the necessity of open societies, particularly defending the Supreme Court’s decisions on the general elections and the electoral symbol.

CJP Qazi Faez Isa’s letter to British High Commissioner Jane Marriott 1
CJP Qazi Faez Isa’s letter to British High Commissioner Jane Marriott 2
CJP Qazi Faez Isa’s letter to British High Commissioner Jane Marriott 3

“Elections in Pakistan were required to be held within 90 days of the completion of the tenure of the National and provincial assemblies but had not taken place because the President and the Election Commission of Pakistan were at odds regarding who is empowered to announce the election date,” CJP Isa explained. He emphasised that the Supreme Court intervened and resolved the matter within 12 days, leading to general elections being held across Pakistan on February 8, 2024.

Regarding the denial of the electoral symbol to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), CJP Isa clarified that the Elections Act, 2017, mandates intra-party elections to prevent autocracy or dictatorship within political parties. “To ensure compliance with this democratic principle, the law stipulates that if a political party does not hold intra-party elections, then it would not be eligible for an election symbol,” he stated. He noted that PTI, which had supported the law, failed to conduct the required elections, leading to the withdrawal of its symbol. “Therefore, your excellency’s criticism with regard to this decision, with utmost respect, was unjustified.”

CJP Isa also highlighted the Supreme Court’s acknowledgment of past mistakes and the steps taken to rectify them, ensuring they are not repeated. He referenced a significant ruling where a larger seven-member bench overturned lifetime bans on candidates deemed dishonest and untrustworthy (‘sadiq’ and ‘ameen’), aligning the decision with the Constitution and the law.

In response to Marriott’s emphasis on open societies, CJP Isa noted the Supreme Court’s initiative to start live broadcasting and streaming cases of public importance for the first time in Pakistan’s history. “This allowed the public at large to view Supreme Court proceedings in their entirety, with transparency in regard to how decisions came to be made,” he said. He mentioned that the decision regarding intra-party elections and party symbols was among those broadcast live.

CJP Isa also addressed issues beyond Pakistan’s judiciary, including Israeli aggression against Palestinians and the roots of the crisis. He urged an embrace of truth to break cycles of violence, criticising historical actions such as the Balfour Declaration and the exclusion of Palestinians from their land. “Deaths of thousands of children and many thousands more innocents may unjustifiably come to define a people, which would be an abomination. Let us all stand up and be counted for equality, peace, and humanity,” he stated.

He further called for the acknowledgment of historical wrongs, such as the 1953 overthrow of Iran’s democratic government to capture Iranian oil, suggesting that revealing the truth would be therapeutic and foster trust and peace. “Since the government of His Majesty King Charles III has stressed the need for open societies and democracy, and offered criticism on the decisions of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, reciprocity would presumably be acceptable,” he concluded.

 

Hassan Naqvi
Hassan Naqvi
Hassan Naqvi is an award-winning digital, print, and broadcast investigative journalist who is the co-founder of The Scoop. He also hosts his web shows 'The Scoop' and 'The Hassan Naqvi Show'.

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