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Wednesday May 29, 2024

Increase in ICT UCs illegal, poll process to continue: ECP

By Mumtaz Alvi
December 21, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan on Tuesday issued an order to continue the process of holding local government elections in the federal capital, saying that the union councils were increased in violation of the related law.

In its two-page order, issued on the heels of a federal government notification increasing union councils from 101 to 125 with LG polls in the Islamabad Capital Territory fixed for December 31, the order said this measure was taken without the concurrence of the Election Commission of Pakistan, which was required under Section 4 (4) of the Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government Act 2015: “…The federal government may, with the concurrence of the commission, alter the limits of a local area under this section after the initiation of proceedings of delimitation of constituencies by the commission but the government shall not alter the limits of a local area after the announcement of election schedule for polls in local area.”

The commission said in its order that now, therefore, the commission in exercise of its powers under Article 140-A (2), Article 218 (3), Article 219 (d) and Article 220 of the Constitution read with enabling provisions of law, hereby, decided to continue the election process notwithstanding the notification of 19.12.2022 of the federal government, which was in violation of Section 4 (4) of the Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government Act, 2015.

The order carries signatures of Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, ECP members Shah Muhammad Jatoi, Nisar Ahmad Durrani and justice (retd) Ikramullah Khan while Babar Hassan Bharwana (Punjab) was on leave. The order says the term of local governments in Islamabad Capital Territory expired on 14.2.2021. The federal government and the Election Commission of Pakistan are under obligation to conduct the elections within 120 days in terms of Section 219 (4) of the Elections Act 2017.

“The commission issued the schedule for carrying out the delimitation of 101 union councils on 22.6.2022 in accordance with the Islamabad Capital Territory Act 2015 and Sections 221 and 223 of the Elections Act 2017 and the process of delimitation was completed on 22.8.22.

The commission issued a schedule for the conduct of local government elections in Islamabad Capital Territory on 20.10.2022…all the steps, including filing of nomination papers, scrutiny, decisions of appellate tribunals, finalisation of candidates, allotment of symbols, completion of polling scheme, appointment and training of polling staff and printing of ballot papers have been completed and the stage is now set for election on December 31, 2022,” the order says.

It adds that the federal government through a notification, issued on December 19, has increased the number of union councils from 101 to 125 without concurrence of the ECP, as required under Section 4 (4) of ICT Local Government Act 2015.