ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday announced the schedule for delimitation of constituencies for holding local government (LG) elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Under the schedule, the delimitation committees will prepare the preliminary lists from July 27 to August 20 and the entire process will be completed with the publication of final lists on October 13.

The ECP has issued the schedule under the amended local government laws of Punjab and KP for holding polls on the basis of provisional census result this time.

The local governments in Punjab were dissolved in a controversial move on May 4 last year, while their term was to expire on January 1, 2022.

In KP, LGs completed their term on August 28, 2019, and the fresh polls were due to be held by December 27 last year.

The ECP had been trying to persuade the provinces to finalise laws and rules and provide it prerequisites for the conduct of LG polls to it, but to no avail.

Legal experts, however, say that a law framed by a provincial assembly cannot override an act of parliament and the entire exercise without a final notification of the census carried out in 2017 would be open for legal challenges.

Under Section 17 (1) of the Elections Act, 2017, the ECP is responsible to delimit territorial constituencies for elections to the National Assembly, each provincial assembly and LGs in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, the Act, the Rules and the applicable local government law. Section 17 (2) of the Act reads: “The Commission shall delimit constituencies after every census officially published.” Since a final notification of census results is still on hold due to political reasons, the delimitation of constituencies if carried out would be illegal.

A source pointed out that the dissolution of LGs in Punjab and the new LG law on the pattern of KP’s local government model was already under challenge in the high court.

Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2020