ISLAMABAD    -   The Supreme Court of Pakistan Wednesday allowed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold Phase-II of the local government elections in Sindh as per schedule.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial conducted hearing of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) petition against the delimitation of constituencies for Phase-II of Local Government Elections in Sindh. The apex court said in its short order, “We are not inclined to express our view on delimitation of constituencies to disturb the schedule.”

The order further said that the LG elections which are being held after two-and-half-year must not be stalled. The bench after hearing the arguments of the parties’ lawyers disposed of the petitions. Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI), Jamaat-e-Islami and Fehmida Mirza leader of Grand Democratic Alliance supported the phase-II LGs polls be held on 28-08-2022.

Farogh Naseem, who represented the MQM-P, was asked to approach the competent forum for the redressal of the grievances. The MQM-P had challenged the vires of Section 10(1) of Sindh Local Government Act, 2013, which was inserted through amendment in 2015. The counsel urged that the authority under the Sindh Act for delimitation of the constituencies conflicts with the Supreme Court judgment 2014. The court noted that these points were not addressed by the petitioner before the Sindh High Court (SHC) in its original application. The Chief Justice said that the points raised before the Supreme Court were included in their amended petition before the SHC, therefore has given no finding on it. Advocate General Sindh Hassan Akbar informed that the delimitation of the constituencies was carried out jointly by the officers of the provincial government and the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Salahuddin Ahmed, appearing on behalf of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, supported the completion of the second phase of LGs polls. He stated, “Half of the elections have been completed and it is not good to nullify the second phase. It will be unfair and let the election may continue as it is scheduled.” Salahuddin, however, asked the bench that the Supreme Court judgment dated 01-02-2022, wherein some directions were given to the Sindh government to hand over certain departments to the local governments be implemented.

The bench told the PTI lawyer that at this stage it is not possible to consider his request, but he can file fresh application for the implementation of the SC verdict.

The AG Sindh informed that the matter is before select committee of the Sindh Assembly, where the consensus has been developed among the political parties to empower the LGs as per the Article 140-A of the constitution.

The chief justice said there is obligation on the Sindh government to comply with the directions. Fehmida Mirza told the Court that she was representing the people of Badin, adding that the local voters have dislocated and new voters included in Badin constituency.

She submitted that the people in Sindh are losing faith in the elections, and they are suffering due to the negligence of the provincial government. Onset of the hearing, Khalid Jawed, representing some candidates of Phase-II LGs polls, told that the petitioner had the remedy before the ECP, which has already reserved its decision on their application. He further argued the MQM-P had filed the writ petition before the Sindh High Court, which had dismissed it in 2016, adding the petitioner did not challenge the high court decision before the apex court. He informed the court that the ballot papers had been printed and were with returning officer, and the election would be taken place as per schedule. He requested court to allow LG elections be held according to the schedule.