Ziaur Rahman Tajik
The election is considered the foundation of democracy and provides an opportunity to establish democracy. Election guarantees that no govt is elected for an indefinite period. In an election citizens of the country chose their representatives for a fixed term and hold them accountable for their performance.
Elected representatives make important decisions for the welfare and betterment of the country and its citizens. The election also ensures a peaceful transition of power from one govt to another govt.
Holding of election within the specified time is the beauty of democracy but the economic emergency and financial crises justify the postponement of the election. An economic emergency is an occurrence that results in a temporary financial consequence over which an institution has no control. Economic emergency left no place for democracy, national sovereignty, living standard of the citizen, transportation, or electric system and endanger life and property. Floods, riots, earthquakes, corruption, mismanagement, and absolute power in the hands of an institution are the common contributory factors towards economic emergencies and financial crises.
Due to economic crises in Pakistan prices of daily life commodities like gas, oil, electricity and food etc have risen and progressively moving towards further increase. And such an increase in price hikes has affected the lives of everyone and the said crises have also devalued the Pakistani currency.
The Constitution of Pakistan provides 3 types of emergencies under articles 232,234 and 235 which are National, provincial and economic emergencies. An economic emergency is the worst kind of emergency provided by article 235 in which salaries and allowances of all classes of persons are reduced. In case of economic crises, the resources should not be allotted towards an election and the election can be postponed till the regaining of economic stability.
Holding of election is an essential feature of politics and democracy. But during economic crises election can be postponed otherwise it would lead to compromising election management quality, and the opportunity for deliberation and consultation. Under Article 105(3) of the Constitution the Governor shall appoint a date for the election of not later than 90 in case of dissolution of the provincial assembly from the date of dissolution. Similarly, article 112 also provides 90 days for the general election when the assembly is dissolved by the governor on the advice of the chief minister. Article 224(2) also provides 90 days for holding the general election from the date of dissolution of the National or provincial assembly.
Non-holding of an election within the specified time of 90 days would of no adverse effect because under article 254 of the Constitution when any act required to be done within a particular period shall not be declared invalid or ineffective by the reason that it was not done within the prescribed period.
Under section 57(1) of the election act 2017, the president has the power to announce the date of the general election after consultation with the election commission but under article 105(3) only the governor has the power to appoint a date for the general election in case of dissolution of the provincial assembly. And in case of conflicts between the constitution and the Act of the parliament, the constitution would prevail. Hence the date fixed by the president of Pakistan has no legal value and lawful existence.
Holding of election under the new census is the mandate of Article 51(4) of the constitution and as per the report of the federal govt, the census has not been finalized and will be finalized by April 2023 which is considered another ground for delay In the holding of the election. Holding of election under the old census would deprive considerable populations of their due representation in the provincial assemblies and the senate. Under Article 218(3) the election commission is bound to make necessary arrangements for the election and conduct a fair, honest, impartial and just election by the law. But the financial crises make the holding of election Practically impossible. For the present economic crisis and financial degradation, the previous govt of PTI is solely responsible and they have no valid justification to demand the holding of an election within 90 days. If they are so interested in the govt then why advise the governor to dissolve the provincial assemblies?