ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court Monday observed that holding of local government elections is constitutional mandate that must be fulfilled in every circumstance but prima facie it seems LG polls in the federal capital cannot be held as per schedule.

The local government elections in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) are scheduled to be held on July 25, 2015. The polls will be held in 79 union councils (UCs) while there will be 13 seats for each UC.

The National Assembly has approved the bill but it is yet to be passed by the Senate.

The court directed the Additional Attorney General Amir Rehman to inform the bench tomorrow (Tuesday) about the status of bill.

A three-member bench headed by Justice Jawwad S Khawaja observed if the local bodies polls are held in Islamabad then many problems, including terrorism, would be solved, as it would be in the knowledge of the ‘mohallah’ (street) representative who is residing in his area. “Are the residents of ICT the third class citizens who have no right to elect their own representatives?” he asked.

Justice Jawwad remarked that the court may adjourn Islamabad LG elections case but the people have the right to know what did happen to the assurance given by the attorney general regarding holding of polls as per schedule.

He said the court could not direct the Senate but it can ask the local authorities to do the needful.

The court noted that there was no mention of ICT in Article 140A.

However, Justice Jawwad remarked there is an example of Washington DC, which is the federal capital of the United States of America, but it has been given the status of state, adding the ICT is also the capital and has its own system of administration.

The AAG informed that it does not seem that the bill would be passed before Eid.

He told that the government has majority in the National Assembly and has the support of allies but other parties have majority in the Senate.

The representative of Election Commission of Pakistan, Additional DG ECP Mehmood Arshad said that the government had informed the commission that some parties wanted changes in the draft bill regarding holding of LG polls on party basis.

If the bill is passed with amendments then the ECP will have to reprint the ballot papers, he said. “We are short of time as we have to print the ballot papers,” he added.

The AAG informed that the National Assembly had approved the Local Government Elections bill 2015 on March 26, 2015, after that it was sent to Senate, which is lying before the Senate standing committee.

He said that the committee has proposed amendments in the bill to hold the elections on party basis.

Upon that Justice Jawwad observed even if the Senate passes the bill, it would not become law as the Senate committee had made two changes in the bill therefore it again would go to the National Assembly for approval, and that would take time.

The court observed that the local bodies elections have been held in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and cantonment boards therefore the federal government has some responsibility, which it has to fulfill. The case was adjourned till today (Tuesday).