PTI lawmaker questions local body polls on the same day

Published October 27, 2021
MPA of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Sultan Mohammad Khan said the house had passed a law, which provided for the phase-wise elections for both tiers of the local government system. — APP/File
MPA of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Sultan Mohammad Khan said the house had passed a law, which provided for the phase-wise elections for both tiers of the local government system. — APP/File

PESHAWAR: MPA of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Sultan Mohammad Khan has questioned the authority of the Election Commission of Pakistan to hold local body elections for tehsil and village/neighbourhood councils the same day in 17 districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, insisting the commission has bypassed the provisions of the local government law, which provided for the elections for both tiers in phases.

On a motion, the PTI lawmaker told the assembly on Tuesday that the ECP had ignored the provisions of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Government (Third Amendment) Act, 2021, by announcing the schedule for local body polls.

Mohammad Abdul Salam from the Panel of Chairmen presided overthe sitting.

Mr Sultan said the house had passed a law, which provided for the phase-wise elections for both tiers of the local government system. He added that Article 140(A) of the 1973 Constitution empowered the provincial assembly to legislate for itself.

In PA, Sultan insists under law, tehsil, village council elections should take place in phases

“This is a matter of the prestige of this assembly, so the ECP should respect the legislative mandate of this house, which made amendments to the local government act,” he said, adding that all institutions should work within their constitutional domains.

The MPA said the judiciary did not strike down the recent amendment to the local government act.

The ECP had announced last Thursday the schedule for the local body elections in KP setting Dec 19 and Jan 16 as the dates for the first and second phase of the polls, respectively.

The KP government had already pleaded that Section 79 of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Government Act, 2013, had been amended, which empowered it to hold the LG elections separately for the village/neighbourhood councils and tehsil councils and that the ECP was bound to conduct elections in line with the amended and applicable local government laws.

MPA of the opposition Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) Inayatullah Khan challenged the opinion of the ruling party’s member and said the provincial assembly could not dictate its legislative mandate.

He said he had opposed amendment to the law, which was passed by the assembly in September 2021.

“Article 140 (A) of the Constitution should not be misinterpreted,” he said.

The assembly admitted an adjournment motion of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl MPA Naeema Kishwar seeking debate on the arrangements and preparations of the provincial government for local body polls in the province.

During question hour, the house was informed that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had filed cases against 265 hospitals in the province for violating environmental safety standards.

Minister for labour Shaukat Ali Yousafzai said the EPA had issued instructions to public and private hospitals to install incinerators to dispose of hazardous waste.

He said the agency was taking steps under Section 11 of the provincial Environmental Act, 2014, to make industrial units and hospitals follow environmental standards.

The minister said a total of 3,645 cases had been filed in the environmental tribunal against industrial units and hospitals for violating the laws and 1,984 cases were pending.

He said Rs 60.3 million fine was imposed on the violators of the environmental laws.

The assembly passed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Excise Duty on Minerals (Labour Welfare) Bill, 2021, after MMA member Inayatullah withdrew the proposed amendments.

The lawmaker feared that the government planned to extend different taxes to Malakand division and newly merged tribal districts of former Fata.

He said the federal and provincial governments had declared those areas tax-free zones until 2023 and that the people of Malakand would not allow taxation.

Mr Inayatullah said some federal ministries were planning to open their offices in Malakand. Labour minister Shaukat Yousafzai dispelled the apprehensions of the lawmaker and said the spirit behind the law was to collect cess to be spent on the welfare of workers.

Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2021

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