ISLAMABAD - The Election Commission of Pakistan Thursday informed Supreme Court the Local Bodies elections in Cantonment areas will be held on 25th April and in Khyber Pukhtoonkhawa on 30th May, which the court approved.

A three-member bench, headed by Justice Jawwad S Khawaja, which heard the case, directed the ECP to include 3 to 5 lakh voters in the revised electoral rolls for Cantonments and 1.2 million persons, who had attained the age of voting, in KPK electoral rolls.

The court, however, rejected the LG polls schedules for Punjab and Sindh provinces and directed the ECP to file the second revised schedules in the chamber for perusal and for further hearing on it today.

The ECP proposed that LG polls in Sindh and the Punjab would be held in three phases. The first phase would be held on 30-09-15, second 04-11-15 and third phase on 09-12-15. The Commission also informed that the delimitation process in the Punjab and Sindh shall take four months and 20 days and shall be notified on 28th July, 2015, while electoral rolls shall be revised in 45 days. Around 120 million ballot papers shall be printed for Sindh and more than 300 million ballot papers for Punjab.

When the bench took up the case on Thursday, Director General (Legal) ECP Abdur Rehman appeared, but miserably failed to answer the court queries.

He was even clueless to reply the simple question, as to why phase-wise elections be held in both the provinces?

The court adjourned the hearing till interval and asked the Attorney General Salman Butt that there should be someone from the ECP who could answer the questions. After the break, Irfan Kausar, Deputy Director ECP, appeared and informed that over 400 million ballot papers shall be printed, adding the ECP was obliged to get the ballot papers printed from Printing Corporation of Pakistan (PCP) which did not have the sufficient capacity.

When the bench asked him to cite the rules that bound the ECP to get the ballot papers printed from PCP. He failed to do so. The court then inquired when the Commission came to know about the limitation of the ECP. He replied at the time of general election 2013.

He further informed they wrote letters to the Establishment Division pointing out deficiency and lack of capacity of the PCP and asked the government to purchase efficient machines for the PCP, as currently it is using the machinery of 1951.

The court observed that it appears the ECP might not consider itself independent statutory body tasked with performing the important constitutional functions to hold the LG elections in support of democratic dispensation, but it considers the subordinate department of the Cabinet Division.

During the proceedings, the SC research staff, present in the courtroom, through internet ascertained that there are fast printing machines, which can generate 100,000 copies of the ballots in one hour.

Justice Jawwad said the ECP does not consider itself the independent besides the fact Article 220 of the Constitution, says; ‘It shall be the duty of all executive authorities in the Federation and in the Provinces to assist the Commissioner and the Election Commission in the discharge of his or their functions.’

Justice Sarmad Jalal said the Finance Ministry was bound to give you money for elections as when the Finance Act is passed then there is no voting on ECP budget. The deputy director ECP informed that there were 1.2 million new voters in KP.

The court noted that there was no justification in the revised schedule for phase-wise polls in Sindh and Punjab, therefore, ordered the ECP to submit the second revised schedules and the justification for the time required.

Justice Jawad S Khawaja said that they will not tolerate any further delay in the elections and the new schedule will be reviewed to ascertain its efficacy. “It would be laughable if 180 million people of the country are deprived of exercising their right of franchise,” Justice Jawwad remarked, and added the court will ensure its duty of implementing the constitution in letter and spirit.

The case was adjourned till today.