ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the elections of mayors and deputy mayors in Sindh, which were scheduled for February 20.

The Sindh government through Fourth Amendment to the Sindh Local Government Bill 2013 had replaced secret balloting with a show of hands as the procedure to elect mayors, deputy mayors and other local government representatives.

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on the petitions of Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Pakistan Muslim League-Functional and others had set aside the amendment on February 10. The Sindh government challenged the SHC judgment in the Supreme Court.

A three-member bench, headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed, heard the appeal against the SHC order. The bench ordered to maintain status quo on the elections of mayors and deputy mayors across Sindh, including Karachi.

Justice Gulzar said they wanted to hear the matter in detail, adding so far the detailed judgment has not been announced.

The provincial government contends that amendment in Sindh Local Government Act was made with intention to conduct the election to the slots of mayor, deputy mayor, chairman, vice chairman and members of reserved seats be held in transparent, fair and free manner to avoid corrupt practices which is the mandate of Article 219 of the constitution.

The Sindh government further states that no question of public importance with reference to the enforcement of any fundamental rights conferred by Chapter 1, Part II of the constitution was involved in the facts and circumstances of the constitutional petitions, filed by MQM and others.

It submitted that the high court entertained and allowed the petitions without jurisdiction.

The petition questions whether the SHC erred in directing the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to immediately fix the date for conducting elections of mayors, deputy mayors and others through a secret ballot before the conduct of indirect elections to the reserved seats for women, youth, labourers and non-Muslims, who have to vote to the mayor, deputy mayor and others.

It is further stated that principle of separation of power provides that the executive power is vested in and is to solely exercise by the government duly elected by the people.

APP adds: Barrister Farogh Nasim representing Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) and other political parties, apprised the court that the Sindh government wanted to delay the election process by making amendments in the Sindh Local Government Act.

Justice Bandial remarked that the Election Commission of Pakistan should complete its task regarding holding of mayors and deputy mayors election. He observed that the election on reserved seats, which was scheduled to be held on February 20, had also been cancelled.

Justice Gulzar observed that the court would not decide the matter without perusal of the SHC decision and the arguments of the lawyers.

Farogh Nasim said that the Sindh government had amended the law replacing the secret ballot with a show of hands for electing mayors, deputy mayors and other local government representatives in the province.

Farooq H Naek, counsel for the Sindh government, pleaded the court to annul the SHC order as the Local Government Act was passed by the provincial assembly with majority.

The hearing of the case was adjourned till March 3.

It may be mentioned that the opposition parties in Sindh Assembly, including the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), PML-F and others, had approached the SHC pleading to set aside the Fourth Amendment to the Sindh Local Government Bill 2013 made by Sindh government as it was in violation of Article 266 of the Constitution which allowed secret ballot for electing mayors, deputy mayors and other LG representatives.

The high court had granted the opposition plea and declared the amendment in the local government law as null and void.

SC ADJOURNS ELECTION PLEA

The Supreme Court on Wednesday adjourned hearing of the election petition seeking disqualification of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Member National Assembly (MNA) Sheikh Rohail Asghar from NA-124 Lahore over allegedly holding fake degree till February 29.

The three-member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and comprising Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik heard the case filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) opponent candidate Waleed Iqbal against Election Tribunal verdict.

During yesterday’s proceedings, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain remarked that courts did not announce verdicts on imaginations.

Justice Sheikh Azmat remarked that if someone holds Persian degree and cannot speak Persian then his degree cannot be declared fake.