Islamabad: The Election Commission of Pakistan yesterday informed the Islamabad High Court that all legal prerequisites have been fulfilled for holding local government elections in the federal capital. The counsel for ECP stated this before a division bench of the IHC which conducted the hearing of 16 petitions including some from PTI challenging delimitation of the Islamabad Capital Territory union councils and the ICT local government Act 2015 for the upcoming LG elections. The dual bench comprising Justice Noor-ul-Haq N Qureshi and Justice Aamir Farooq conducted the hearing of these petitions and adjourned the proceedings till Wednesday (today).

During the hearing, ECP counsel S A Mehmood Saddozai adopted before the court that all legal requirements were fulfilled before holding of local bodies elections in Islamabad. He told that two union councils had been established for every sector and delimitations were done keeping in view voters’ list instead of population. Additional Attorney General Aafnan Karim Kundi informed the court that holding of LG elections would not violate any article of the Constitution.

Raja Shafqat Abbasi Advocate, the counsel for a petitioner who has challenged the ICT LG Act 2015, contended before the court that for LG elections in the ICT, Article 140 of the Constitution needs to be amended as it only talks about the LG elections in the provinces and not in the federal capital. In this matter, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf and some other petitioners have put questions before the court. They have urged the court to clarify whether or not delimitation of 50 union councils (UCs) in Islamabad was done as per law. They have also challenged Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Local Government Act, saying whether or not this document is fully capable to cover election related issues and why the age for youth councillors has been prescribed as not less than 25 year with no upper age limit.

Earlier, the same bench had clubbed eight petitions filed by PTI and some other candidates against the upcoming local government election in the federal capital. The PTI through its Additional Central Organizer Saifullah Khan Niazi has challenged the delimitation of ICT while adopting that delimitation officer delimited 50 UCs and 6 wards in each UC and published the same list on September 26. The PTI then filed objections on the delimitation of UCs against the authority but its objections were dismissed on October 10.

According to PTI petition, the delimitation would benefit the ruling PML-N and would give the party undue advantage over others. Another petition has been filed by a candidate through his counsel Raja Shafqat Khan Abbasi while challenging the ICT local government act 2015. The petitioner’s counsel contended before the court that the ICT local government act 2015 was inconclusive, as it did not empower the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to delimit the constituencies. And as per this act, delimitation was a job of the executive but contrary to this it was done by the ECP.

He argued that a Lahore High Court bench on the same ground had struck down the delimitation of some UCs in Rawalpindi and later ECP filed a petition against LHC order in the Supreme Court. The petitioner further adopted that for youth councillors the lower age limit has been defined “not less than 25 years” but no upper age limit has been fixed. Through this lacuna even a 50 years old person could file nomination papers under the youth category. Former Senator Syed Zafar Ali Shah through different petition has also challenged the reduction in the number of ICT UCs initially from 79 to 50 at the present. He has challenged merger of some UCs and change of their nomenclature.