ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court has directed the provinces to hold local bodies (LB) elections after Muharram, warning that if polls are further delayed, it might order revival of the old LB laws and holding of election under the old system.
The SC bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was hearing the case pertaining to LG polls. During the proceedings, the CJP remarked that everyone (provincial governments and Islamabad Capital Territory authority) was giving different date for local bodies elections.
The chief justice said they could not allow anyone to make constitution ineffective. The Additional Attorney General and the Advocate Generals of all the provinces were directed to file replies and then, the court said, it would examine any other option to enforce the constitutional provisions, particularly Article 140A.
The court also asked the learned counsels to provide the details about old LB polls of their respective provinces.
The bench said that the masses at the grass-root level must be allowed to participate in democratic setup. “This can only be possible if the local government polls are held at the grassroots,” the CJP remarked. He said the LB system would be helpful in controlling crimes like robbery and theft as well as the menace of terrorism, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
Advocate General Balochistan informed the court that the provincial government has decided to hold LB polls on December 7.
The chief justice questioned how the government could decide about it when there was no cabinet in the province.
Three days ago, Punjab Acting AG Mustafa Ramday had informed the court that local bodies election in the province would be held on December 14, 2013, but the court expressed its displeasure with this date. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has not given any specific so far, and its advocate general had informed the bench that instead of union council, the provincial government wanted village councils and for that some amendments were being made in the law.
Advocate General KPK Abdul Latif Yousafzai said that as per their plan, 957 union councils would be merged in the 3,500 village councils and there would be one VC for each unit of 8,000 people. He said for the new system they had to do legislation.
Justice Jawwad S Khawaja remarked if the legislation is to take much time then why not the government do it through issuance of an Ordinance. He said there was an impression that the new KPK government would be the first to hold local bodies’ election in the province but now it is not giving a clear date.
Additional Attorney General Shahkhawar, appearing on behalf of ICT, apprised that the government was in the process of amending the law as earlier there was an issue of rural and urban divide in the capital territory. Justice Jawwad pointed out that this issue had been dealt with in the ICT Local Government Ordinance 2002. He said according to its section 42, if difficulty arises then the ECP and the federal government could remove it. Election Commission of Pakistan Director General Abdul Rehman informed the court that he needed some time to inquire from the ECP about its preparedness to hold LB elections in the provinces and the ICT. On the requests of the AAG and the advocate generals the chief justice adjourned the hearing until October 1, 2013.