ISLAMABAD - The Election Commission of Pakistan has sought guidance from the Supreme Court regarding its inability to hold Local Government elections in Punjab and Sindh on the given dates after Sindh High Court and Lahore High Court decisions pertaining to delimitations.
Advocate Akram Sheikh on Monday moved an application in the apex court on behalf of the ECP under the SC Rules 1980, requesting to give fresh directions to the commission about holding LG elections in both the provinces after high courts’ rulings.
Narrating the outcome of high courts judgments, the counsel told the SC that the entire delimitation of wards in the provinces of Sindh and Punjab stands “set aside and no more in existence”.
“The panel system envisaged under sub-section 12 of section 18 of the Sindh Local Government Act 2013 in the Union Councils/Committees of the province and the provisions of sub-section 14 of the said section which debar independent candidates to contest elections if they fail to form a panel has also been declared to be violating the constitution and the law,” he further said.
Akram Sheikh further stated that the provisions giving power to the delimitation officer to declare a rural area to be an urban area and change in the figure of population in union committees had also been declared ultra vires to the constitution and the law.
The learned counsel said that the Punjab Local Government Act 2013 and the Sindh Local Government Act 2013 has to be amended by the respective provinces in view of both high courts judgments, and fresh delimitations have to be carried out.
Likewise, he said polls in Sindh on January 18 and in Punjab on January 30 appeared to be impossible also due to the requests of the Printing Corporation of Pakistan (PCP) Islamabad and Pakistan Security Printing Corporation (PSPC) Karachi to extend the time for printing of ballot papers.
The ECP’s counsel also pointed out that printing of ballot papers could only be started after the issuance of list of contesting candidates and not before.
“In a short period of three days, it is impossible to print 300 million ballot papers and distribute them among 228 Retuning Officers across the province of Sindh before the day of polls,” he added.
The counsel also stated that the similar situation was being faced in Punjab, where 300 million ballot papers are required to be printed, which is impossible within a period of 14 days from the publication of list of contesting candidates on January 13, 2014.
He said that the representative of PSPC had stated the commission that only one assignment could be undertaken at one time and that PSPC would first print 30 million ballots papers for Sindh for which they needed at least 15 days, and requested for time till January 30, 2014 instead of January 7, 2014, the earlier date given by the ECP.
Akram Sheikh further said that PSPC’s representative had conveyed the ECP that they would start printing 250 million ballot papers for Punjab after completing their assignment regarding the province of Sindh and they would be required at least 25 days for printing of these ballot papers for Punjab.
“The PCP Managing Director stated similar difficulties and requested for extension till February 26, 2014 for printing and transportation of 250 million ballot papers of Punjab.”
About the printing of 100 millions ballot papers in KPK, the PCP MD stated that after completing assignment of 250 million ballot papers for Punjab, he would need another 25 days for printing the ballot papers in respect of KPK province as well as ballot papers for ICT and Cantonment Areas.