ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court Friday stopped short of issuing contempt of court notice to the prime minister but warned it would do so if the constitutional obligation of holding local government (LG) elections was not fulfilled.

A two-judge bench, comprising Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmany, hearing case regarding LG elections also has sought reply on March 3 from Sindh, Punjab, Islamabad and cantonment boards in connection with final date for conducting the polls.

The court said if its orders have been violated then they would pass another order to fulfil its constitutional mandate. The bench said it was very careful in the matter and therefore not issuing notice to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the moment, but it would not hesitate in doing so if the need arose.

The bench also directed Attorney General for Pakistan to assist whether notice to PM could be issued for non-compliance of its orders regarding LG elections in Cantonment Boards. An interim court order issued after the hearing said one Raja Rubnawaz had filed a contempt petition against the Chief Executive of country praying that he (PM) has not implemented the court orders on LG polls in Cantonment areas therefore the court issue him contempt notice.

Justice Jawwad remarked, “Throw the constitution into dustbin if the federation and provinces have not to conduct LG polls. All are literate and know that non-implementation of the constitution can yield what consequences. He observed, “Legislators are respectable and their job is to legislate and not to implement it. People have run out of patience. No person or institution including parliament and CE (chief executive) can prevent the Election Commission (of Pakistan) from discharging its obligation in consonance with law.”

Justice Jawwad added, “The EC (prime minister) is hesitating to discharge its obligation despite having been invested with powers. The lacunas in laws will not be removed in next 10 years too then should we halt polls? (The) Federation and the (federal and provincial) governments had said in undertaking on oath that legislation will be enacted within 10 days. Proceedings will be initiated against those who have failed to uphold (that) undertaking.”

Justice Sarmad Jalal Usmani remarked, “The EC should tell who is preventing it from performing its duty as per constitution. How can federation and provinces prevent ECP from conducting LG polls. Justice Jawwad S Khawaja remarked “What action should be taken on non-implementing court’s orders? Akram Sheikh should assist the court on this matter. The entire matter looks to be violation of law. Who is responsible? We have certain powers under which action could be taken against them.

Akram Sheikh read out article 220. Justice Jawwad remarked, “If we are empowered as per constitution then all right; otherwise, we go home. There was no chief election commissioner (in the country) for one year. Someone should tell us what is this being done with the nation and the country. You should tell us what the constitution says (in this regard). If elections have not to be conducted then throw the constitution into dustbin! Constitution talks of devolution of powers to people through polls. On the other hand provinces don’t want to do this.”

Akram Sheikh representing the election commission said, “Holding general elections, senate elections and LG polls is responsibility of ECP. It is legally and constitutionally binding on all administrative institutions to assist election commission in performing its functions. Justice Sarmad inquired if delimitation has been carried out as per law or not. Sheikh said this is not the responsibility of the ECP.

Justice Jawwad remarked, “It is being said ECP has no powers. If it has powers, why it is not exercising its powers? It should conduct delimitation and give date for holding polls. People of this country are facing difficulties for the reason that they say to their representatives they will see them how they come to power when election takes place. Who will hold them accountable if election is not held? They have run out of patience. Holding election is responsibility of ECP under Section 219 of the Constitution.”

Justice Jawwad further observed, “Constitution has to impose will of people. (If) our English (language) is not correct, we will tell the ECP next time through translation that it is its duty to hold polls. No institution in the country can prevent you (ECP) from holding elections. 5 years have elapsed. Which institution has stopped you (the commission) from performing the duty despite having powers? You can announce outside the room that it is schedule and elections will be held under it. If someone declares your order violation of constitution, come to us and we will perform the next duty. We will declare your responsibility correct (rightful).

Akram Sheikh said “hurdles are coming in my way”. Justice Jawwad remarked “constitution says no one can come in the way to the ECP. How can you say some one is coming in your way? The judge said “it has to be resolved today when the elections will be held and who will not give dates”. He said, “Balochistan has conducted LG polls. KP is also giving date. Only Sindh and Punjab are left now. They should tell what they are doing. The Punjab, Sindh and the federation should come prepared and tell that they have not to enact legislation.

The court ruled “We are not in a position to issue notice to him (PM) so far (as demanded by the plaintiff). However we ask Attorney General to assist us as per law that how can we take step with reference to it if our order has been violated.” Justice Jawwad remarked it is highly extreme step. “If we have to do it we will do it at every cost and will not hesitate from it. Therefore, we are not issuing notice as yet.” The court adjourned the hearing of the case till March 3.