ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court Wednesday directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to ensure the announcement of schedule and complete the process of holding local government elections by or before November 15.
“Since the delimitation of constituencies for the local government (LG) polls is part of organising and holding elections honestly, justly and fairly, which is the constitutional mandate of the ECP, therefore the power to carry out such delimitation should vest with the election commission,“ the court held in its short order.
A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani and comprising Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, announced the order on the appeal filed by the ECP against the Lahore High Court judgment on February 3, 2014. The court observed that holding of LG polls has been delayed for more than nine years, which is violative of the constitutional command.
The federal and the Punjab governments have been directed to make appropriate amendments/legislation to empower the ECP to carry out delimitation of constituencies within five months from ‘today’ (March 19), while the ECP was ordered to carry out delimitation process within 45 days of the enactment/amendments in laws.
The court also declared the Sections 8 to 10 of the Punjab Local Govt Act, 2013 and the relevant Rules framed there-under ultra vires of the constitution, as they empower the provincial government to carry out the delimitation of the constituencies. The Punjab government, earlier during the hearing, sought four months time for holding local bodies election in the province. Punjab Advocate General Mustafa Ramdy submitted a report pertaining to timeframe for the LB polls. As per the report, the elections will be held in the province in 10 stages. It sought four months to prepare draft legal bill and delimitation of constituencies for LB elections.
ECP counsel Muhammad Akram Sheikh argued that Sections 8 to 10 of Local Bodies Act be declared ultra vires to the constitution, adding the apex court has the jurisdiction to annul these sections.
The court ruled that the power to hold LG elections is vested with the ECP in terms of Article 140A of the constitution. The ECP has been mandated to ‘organise and conduct the election and to make such arrangements as are necessary to ensure that the election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law, and that corrupt practices are guarded against,” says the order.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) government on March 18 submitted before the court that it had completed the exercise of delimitation of constituencies for holding local bodies elections in the province. He prayed the court to announce the judgement on delimitation because if the court assigned delimitation process to the election commission then the delimitation exercise done by the KPK government would be annulled.