ISLAMABAD - Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani Wednesday made it clear that as the whole delimitation process has been set aside by the Sindh High Court and the Lahore High Court, therefore there is no need to issue a revised polling date for Local Government polls at this stage.
A three-member bench, headed by the Justice Tassaduq was hearing the Election Commission’s application regarding the issuance of new proposed LG elections schedule in the two provinces due to the delay in printing of ballot papers.
The bench also observed, “We are confident that the ECP will not show slackness in holding the LG elections.”
The chief justice also stated the LG elections process would not be adjourned or delayed for indefinite period. Addressing the MQM’s counsel Farugh Nasim, the CJP also said that he must be conscious about the mandate of Article 140-A.
He observed that the governments did not complete their homework regarding the holding of LG elections; therefore the court had to intervene in this regard. The CJP also expected that elections should be held in a transparent manner.
During the hearing, ECP Secretary Ishtaiq Ahmad Khan along with Akram Sheikh advocate requested the bench that the polls deadline be extended due to the request of Printing Corporation of Pakistan (PCP) Islamabad and Pakistan Security Printing Corporation (PSPC) Karachi to print ballot papers. The secretary said the LG polls in Sindh on January 18 and in the province of Punjab on January 30 appeared to be impossible.
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.
Submitting the new proposed polling date of LG elections, the ECP secretary said that the commission suggests February 23 as polling date in Sindh and March 13 for polling in Punjab.
The court, however, pointed out that after the issuance of both high courts verdicts, the commission had need to issue a new proposed polling date. It could be perceived that the SC allowed as much time as is necessary to complete legal and operation formalities (such as delimitation matters and printing of ballots) while requiring all sides to comply with instructions from the High Courts too. Similarly, it is clear from the judges’ remarks that the SC doesn’t approve delaying LG polls for a longer period under any pretext.
Meanwhile, the court has also accepted the Sindh government’s appeal against the SHC order against the fresh delimitation, carried out by the provincial government. Issuing notices to all respondents, the bench adjourned the hearing until January 27.
During the hearing, Advocate General Sindh Khalid Javed contended before the bench that delimitation process was carried out with the consultation of the ECP. He also requested the bench to suspend the SHC order for continuing the LG elections process as 11,000 candidates had submitted their nomination papers.
On the other hand, the counsel for MQM Farugh Naseem opposed the AG Sindh plea regarding the suspension of SHC’s order and requested the bench to give short date for regular hearing of the case.
He also informed that LHC would issue detailed order, which had set aside the entire delimitation of wards, on Monday and the court should also examine that order as well.
He said that they also wanted that LG elections should be held as soon as possible but it should be held in a transparent manner. Several political parties including Sindh United Front have also endorsed the MQM’s stance in this case.
Justice Azmat Saeed, a member of the bench, said that at least Sindh United Front and MQM are together on this legal issue.
Regarding the appeals against the LHC order, the court said that they would fix that case for hearing on Monday. Acting Advocate General Punjab Mutasfa Ramday also came at rostrum and told the bench that Punjab government was waiting the LHC’s detailed order.
DEFINITE DATE FOR CANTONMENT POLLS
NNI adds: The SC?on Wednesday directed the Defence secretary to give a definite date for holding elections in cantonments by tomorrow.