Monday May 20, 2024

IHC issues notice to ECP over delay in Islamabad LG polls

The IHC issued a notice to the ECP for delaying the local government polls — scheduled to take place on December 31 — in the federal capital

By Awais Yousafzai
December 29, 2022
The Islamabad High Court building in Islamabad. The IHC website.
The Islamabad High Court building in Islamabad. The IHC website.  

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Wednesday issued a notice to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for delaying the local government polls — scheduled to take place on December 31 — in the federal capital.

The development came after Justice Arbab Muhammad Tahir took up the petition of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) seeking to nullify the ECP’s decision to postpone the local government elections in Islamabad.

The IHC also issued a notice to Attorney-General for Pakistan Mansoor Usman Awan for assisting the court in the hearing.

The plea was filed after the ECP delayed the polls a day earlier after it held a hearing and listened to all the parties involved in the matter, upon the IHC’s orders.

The bone of contention between the political parties, the ECP, and federal government is of an increase in the number of union councils, which the Centre notified earlier this month.

At the outset of Wednesday’s hearing, PTI Awan’s lawyer Sardar Taimoor said the election commission had issued the schedule for local bodies polls for 50 UCs on June 2.

“The federal government increased the number of union councils to 101. Then, the election commission delayed the polls for fresh delimitation,” the lawyer said.

Later, the ECP issued a revised schedule for the local bodies polls on October 22 and in line with the timetable, the elections were supposed to take place on December 21.

The lawyer mentioned that as soon as preparations were done for the polls, the federal government once again increased the number of UCs. He added that the Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation administrator moved the summary for the new UC 12 days back. “How did the administrator get data that the population had increased without a fresh census?” he wondered.

In response, Justice Tahir said the summary to increase the UCs was approved within 24 hours. However, he noted that the prosecution act has not been passed despite repeated notices from the court. The lawyer then told the court that the government had increased the UCs from 101 to 125 and that once the schedule had been issued, the numbers could not change. The PTI lawyer said that the ECP has already spent millions of rupees and that the new legislation which changed the numbers of UCs should be considered a “proposal” and not a law since the president had not yet approved it.

Following this, the court served notices to the attorney-general and ECP as it adjourned the hearing till tomorrow (December 29).