ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Friday directed the election commission to hold Local Government (LG) elections in Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab on the dates announced by provinces.

Sindh has committed to hold LG polls on November 27, 2013, while the Punjab and Balochistan has given December 7 date for the elections. The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Islamabad Capital Territory have still not completed the prerequisites in this regard, forcing Justice Jawwad S Khawaja to remarked, “The frontrunner is lagging behind others.”

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) two days ago, through advocate Akram Sheikh, had filed a Civil Miscellaneous Application (CMA), expressing some reservations to hold LG elections this year. According the ECP application, it required at least 30 days time for printing of ballot papers and the appointment of Returning Officer and Assistant Returning Officers, before issuance of election schedule if a province provides prerequisites (law, rules and delimitation) along with formal request for holding of elections.

The ECP also said it needed 2-3 months for examining compatibility of electoral rolls with the delimitation as, according to it, the provinces delimited the local council/wards on the old census blocks, while the Nadra has prepared the existing electoral rolls on the basis of new census blocks, conducted by Statistic Division in 2011.

Hearing the case of LG polls, the relevant SC bench on Friday observed that after 18th Amendment the establishment of local government system became the responsibility of the provinces under Article 140A of the constitution. Each province under the said article has to establish an LG system and to devolve political, administrative, financial responsibility and autonomy to the elected representatives of the local government. The Clause 2 of the said article put the responsibility on the ECP to conduct the LG elections.

Attorney General for Pakistan Munir A Malik, who was directed to address the court about the consequences if the apex court orders were not implemented, stated that the baggage of past should not be unloaded on the shoulders of the present federal and provincial governments, as those were installed just four months ago.

The attorney general said the governments in the provinces and the Centre are conscious to safeguard the constitutional provisions. He said so many times the executive functionaries do not work in accordance with the constitutional provisions then the apex court taking cognisance of it issue contempt of court notices.

Heading the bench, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said they have to protect the command of the constitution. Addressing the AG, he said due to the constitutional command the PML-N, PPP, PTI and other parities were now in the government. He said according to the Article 140A, the government should hold LG elections.

Pointing out that ICT (Islamabad Capital Territory) and KPK have failed to frame the LG laws despite several hearings of the case, the court asked the attorney general what should be the consequences for non-adherence to the constitutional command. The AG replied that he would address this issue on November 4.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa AG Latif Yousafzai informed the court that the bill regarding LG law has been tabled in the provincial assembly which would be passed in 2 to 3 days. Additional Attorney General Shah Khawar also informed that ICT draft was ready and it was on the PM table for approval.