With the opposition PTI demanding fresh elections in the country, the Election Commission Tuesday hinted that the electoral exercise could not be held before May 2023. In a statement, the Commission said it received a letter on April 18 from the Ministry of Planning, Development, and Special Initiatives, adding that the seventh population census would commence on August 1 and its results would be received by December 31. As a result, the ECP said it would be constitutionally bound to hold elections based on the new census as the 2017 census – used to conduct polls nowadays – would become irrelevant. Once the ECP receives the new census data, the ECP will start working on delimitation from January 2023, and it will take the body at least four months to issue new lists of the constituencies – and only then can elections be held, says a news report. The Commission said some quarters were blaming it for delaying the foreign funding cases. “The ECP strongly rejects this criticism.” The Commission said scrutiny committees were working on the applications received from the PPP, PML-N, and PTI. It added that the hearing in the PTI foreign funding case was nearing its end and final arguments were underway. The PPP and PML-N have been asked to present their party’s records before the ECP’s scrutiny committee on May 9, the statement said, noting that if there was a delay in the procedures, then it was due to delaying tactics from the political parties, and not the election body. In the statement, the ECP said it worked independently, was an unbiased body serving in line with the law, and serving the country’s “best interest”. The ECP mentioned that it had received 20 declarations of violation of 63(A) from the National Assembly on April 14, whose hearing will take place on April 28. Meanwhile, it received 26 Article 63(A) declarations from the Punjab Assembly, whose hearing will take place on May 6, the ECP said, noting that the body has the prerogative to decide the cases within 30 days.