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—File Photo.
—File Photo.

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court ordered the four provincial governments and the Islamabad administration on Monday to complete legal formalities, including delimitation of constituencies, by Aug 15 to enable the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold local government elections preferably on Sept 15.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry said it would appreciate if the provincial governments held the polls by Sept 15. It said the process of promulgating new laws and rules and conducting delimitation of constituencies should be finalised to ensure early elections.

“The constitution casts a duty on us that it should be enforced by following its provisions practically to enable the general public to participate in good governance,” the chief justice observed while stressing the importance of the elections.

The issue had attracted the attention of the court on July 17 during the last hearing of a case relating to law and order situation in Balochistan after which the court decided to pursue the matter.

The court recalled that it had already fixed Sept 15 as the date for the elections in the areas falling under the jurisdiction of cantonment boards across the country and the relevant authorities had assured it of conducting the exercise.

The ECP’s Director General (Elections) Sher Afgan informed the court about legal implications because of which the commission needed at least 90 days to hold the elections after receiving requests to do so from the provincial governments.

Citing the Local Governments Act of Balochistan, he said the provincial governments would ask the ECP to hold the elections and submit their plans about relevant laws and rules, besides completing the process of delimitation.

Normally, he said, the ECP needed 60 days to hold general elections but if the assemblies were dissolved before completing their term, the commission required 90 to 120 days to make arrangements for the elections.

Acting Advocate General of Punjab Mustafa Ramday told the court that the provincial government would be ready to hold local government elections but needed two to three weeks for completing the process of delimitation and promulgation of relevant laws.

Advocate General of Sindh Khalid Javed said the provincial government was ready to hold the elections by the date fixed by the court but, if permitted, it would be easy for it hold the polls after Dec 31.

The governments of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have already given their consent for holding the elections and sought a specific date from the ECP.

Representing the Islamabad administration, Deputy Attorney General Sajid Ilyas Bhatti said the federal government was ready to hold the polls in rural areas of the capital but needed amendments in the Local Government Act 1979 for doing so in urban areas.