Local govt law contrary to the election act, ECP tells high court

Updated 05 Oct 2019

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ECP counsel states local government polls are not possible under impugned law due to contradictions in the process for election and the delimitation given in it. — AFP/File
ECP counsel states local government polls are not possible under impugned law due to contradictions in the process for election and the delimitation given in it. — AFP/File

LAHORE: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday told the Lahore High Court that the Punjab Local Government Act 2019 was not only contrary to the Election Act 2017 but also a self-contradictory in nature.

During hearing of a set of petitions before a full bench, the ECP counsel stated that the local government polls were not possible under the impugned law due to contradictions in the process for election and the delimitation given in it.

Senior Puisne judge Justice Mamoon Rashid Sheikh headed the bench with Justice Shahid Waheed and Justice Jawad Hassan.

The petitioners include Lahore’s former lord mayor retired Col Mubashir Javed, nine deputy mayors, Narowal district council former chairman Ahmad Iqbal, son of former interior minister Ahsan Iqbal.

Senior lawyers Khalid Ranjha, Ahsan Bhoon, Azam Nazir Tarar, Mobeenuddin Qazi, Usama Khawar Ghumman and others represented the petitioners.

Punjab Advocate General Ahmad Jamal Sukhera represented the provincial government and questioned the competency of the petitions.

The bench sought personal appearance of provincial secretaries for law and local government on the next hearing and also directed the petitioners’ counsel to file their rejoinders.

The bench dismissed an identical petition of former federal minister Danyal Aziz for non prosecution.

It also issued a notice to the provincial government on a fresh application challenging a notification recently issued by the government authorising bureaucrats to disburse funds of local governments without any democratic oversight or participation.

Next date of the hearing will be fixed by the office shortly.

The petitioners mainly contended that the PLGA-2019 had been passed in hasty and arbitrary manner as no debate was held on it in the assembly. They said after the promulgation of the new law, the previous local government institutions were abolished before the expiry of their five-year constitutional term.

The petitioners stated that dissolution of the local government system elected in 2013 amounted to commit contempt of vote and voters as 60,000 elected representatives across the province were sent packing.

They asked the court to declare that all elected to office under the 2013 law were entitled to complete their constitutional term and suspend operation of the PLGA-2019 till the completion of the term of the sitting set-up.

Published in Dawn, October 5th, 2019