Monday June 24, 2024

Govt told to ensure presence of detained LG representatives in mayor poll

By Jamal Khurshid
June 10, 2023

The Sindh High Court on Friday directed the Sindh government to ensure the presence of detained or arrested elected representatives of local governments in the forthcoming election of Karachi’s mayor.The direction came on petition of the Jamaat-e-Islami seeking a court injunction to ensure the presence of all detained or arrested chairmen of union committees for the election of mayor and deputy mayor of Karachi. Karachi Jamaat-e-Islami emir and mayoral candidate Hafiz Naeemur Rehman submitted that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had secured 41 seats of chairmen and vice chairmen from different union councils of Karachi and announced its unconditional support for him as candidate for the mayor’s slot.

He alleged that the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party was trying to capture the office of the mayor by hook or by crook and also using state machinery to deprive the citizens of their duly elected mayor. Rehman said all illegal measures were being taken by the provincial government and functionaries during the election process, and now they had started pressurizing the council members, especially elected on the PTI ticket, by police raids on their residences, threats by rouge elements and involvement of elected candidates in false cases and blind FIRs.The petitioner’s counsel Usman Farooq said that PTI candidates were being stopped from participating in the process for elections to reserved seats and police were raiding the residences of elected chairmen and vice chairmen elected on the PTI ticket to stop them from casting their votes in favour of the JI, he further alleged.

He said the elected chairmen of UC-2 Jamshed Town, Firdous Shamim, Umar Daraz of UC-10 North Nazimabad Town, Syed Amjad Hussain, chairmen of UC-5 Korangi Town, and Mohammad Mustafa, elected chairman of UC-1 Mominabad Town, had been arrested and sent to different prisons and were not being allowed to take the oath to cast their votes.He said that several persons who are eligible to cast their votes in each of those elections are being detained in custody and it is apprehended that they would be prevented from exercising their right of franchise.

He said the elected members are bound to cast their votes as per the decision of their political parties, and in case of deviation the defection clause as per the Sindh Local Government Act will apply to them. The court was requested to direct the ECP to ensure fair and free elections of the mayor, deputy mayor, chairmen and vice chairmen of the KMC and towns respectively by providing the members of the city council free access to the polling places set up by the ECP. The Election Commission of Pakistan’s law officer submitted that several complaints have been received by the commission on the subject matter. He said that the ECP had directed the Sindh government to ensure that voters for the elections of heads of local councils are brought on polling stations with all safety measures so that they could use their right of franchise in the mayor, deputy mayor elections.

The Sindh advocate general has also filed para-wise comments mentioning that UC chairman Umar Daraz, Amjad Hussain and Mohammad Mustafa were arrested in relation to rioting cases registered at different police stations of the city. He submitted that Syed Firdous Shamim Naqvi was also detained in relation with a criminal case, but due to his ill health he was presently admitted to the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases in Sukkur.The AG questioned the maintainability of the petition but undertook that Sindh government would abide by the orders of the ECP issued on June 2 in both letter and spirit as regards the aforementioned four persons and all other voters that were in its custody.A high court division bench, headed by Justice Yousuf Ali Sayeed, keeping in view of the order of the ECP and the undertaking given by the AG on behalf of the Sindh government, disposed of the petition with a direction to the government to ensure that voters for the elections of heads of local councils are brought to the polling stations with all safety measures so that they could use their right of franchise in the aforesaid elections.