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Law allowing unelected persons to contest mayoral poll: ECP put on notice on JI’s plea

By Jamal Khurshid
June 09, 2023

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday issued notices to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Sindh advocate general and others on a petition that has challenged an amendment to the Sindh Local Government Act 2013 that allows unelected persons to contest the election to the mayoral post.

The petitioner, Hafiz Naeemur Rehman, who is the Karachi Jamaat-e-Islami emir and has been elected as the chairman of the Union Committee 8 of North Nazimabad, had submitted in the petition that the government introduced an amendment to the local government act waiving the condition that only an elected person could contest the election for the slot of the mayor of a metropolitan corporation, and chairman of town and municipal committees.The JI leader said that the section 3 of the amended law allowed any person to be elected to the post of the chairman or mayor and cast away the precondition of the membership/election, which, he said, was illegal on account that the representative democracy was premised on the vesting of executive authority with persons who were elected representatives and members of a constitutive body.

He further submitted that the impugned amendment was promulgated and deemed to have taken force on and from December 31, 2021, whereby a past and closed electoral process had been infringed upon by making an allowance for an unelected person to be elected to the post of chairman or mayor.He said the amendment subverted the electoral process and sought the appointment of an unelected person with the aim to allow the same person to exercise the executive authority.He said the legislation was a clear attempt at prejudicing the electoral process, which meant a non-elected person shall be entitled to hold a public office and exercise executive authority indefinitely.

He said the amendment was a calculated attempt to favour certain persons, and requested the high court to declare it unlawful.The SHC was requested to declare the impugned amendment as unconstitutional and restrain the respondents from taking action pursuant to the Section 180-B of the local government law till the disposal of the petition.A division bench of the SHC headed by Justice Yousuf Ali Sayeed after a preliminary hearing of the petition issued notices to the ECP and advocate general, and called their comments on June 13.