ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday ordered elections for the posts of Karachi Mayor and Deputy Mayor to be held through a secret ballot rather than a show of hands within 60 days.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali was hearing a petition lodged by the Sindh government against various appellants.

The court observed that an earlier amendment to the Sindh Local Government Act, 2013, requiring a show of hands for election of the top-most posts had "no legal effect" as the change was made after the election schedule had already been announced in August last year.

The order said even though the government had the right to "legislate law to hold such elections either through a show of hands or by means of secret ballot", in this case the amendment to the legislation was made "after announcement of the election schedule."

The SC ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan to ensure completion of the election process of local government in Sindh for the aforementioned offices and reserved seats within 60 days.

In January, the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, with the support of the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) managed to change the procedure of indirect local government elections from ‘secret ballot’ to ‘show of hands’ while lawmakers belonging to other opposition parties — the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Pakistan Muslim League-Functional and PML-N had vehemently opposed the bill and challenged it in the Sindh High Court with five identical petitions.

Announcing its verdict, the Sindh High Court in February directed the ECP to immediately fix a date to hold elections of mayor and other LG representatives across the province by secret ballot but the Sindh government challenged the SHC decision in the Supreme Court, arguing that the amendment in the SLGA was made with the intention of conducting the elections in a transparent manner in a bid to avoid corrupt practices.