ISLAMABAD - A division bench of Islamabad High Court yesterday granted a one-day time to Election Commission of Pakistan to submit its reply in a petition against its decision to suspend National Kissan Relief Package worth Rs 341 billion.

The dual bench (DB) comprising Justice Noor-ul-Haq N Qureshi and Justice Aamer Farooq conducted the hearing in the federal government’s plea against ECP orders restraining the government from implementing the NKRP and observed, “it appears the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) while issuing this order, did not consult political parties in accordance with the law.”

Then, the IHC division bench granted a one-day time to the ECP directing them to come up with details before the court today.

During the hearing, additional director general (ADG) ECP Muhammad Arshad appeared before the court and sought some time for ECP to appoint a lawyer. Attorney General (AG) of Pakistan Salman Butt at this juncture said that despite the fact, the ECP received notices and news items were also published in the media, yet it is seeking time for preparation.

The ECP official contended before the court that the September 29 notification restraining federal government from implementing NKRP was issued in consultation with the political parties.

At this juncture, the court said that if it was done after meetings then surely there must be minutes to the meeting. Then, the IHC bench directed the ADG ECP to produce minutes of meeting before the court on the next hearing.

However, the AG Salman Butt argued that ECP did not consult any political party that is a violation of the political parties order. A code of conduct could only be issued after consultation with the political parties.

He said that the NKRP is not meant for Sindh and Punjab only but it is for the whole country. Delay in its implementation will cause troubles for the farmers. He further argued that the NKRP has no nexus with attracting voters in the local bodies election.

In this matter, Federal Ministry of Food Security and Research had moved the petition through an additional attorney general of Pakistan and challenged ECP’s decision whereby it had restrained the federal government to implement NKRP.

On September 29, the ECP had restrained the federal government from implementing the Kissan Package.

The government contended that the election commission without any jurisdiction and without consulting the relevant stakeholders such as the Ministry of Finance and Planning Commission, unilaterally announced the decision that is liable to be set aside.