MUZAFFARABAD: Winding up prolonged litigation on the issue, the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the government to make arrangements to hold local bodies (LB) elections by August next year in light of the 2017 census.

The judgement was delivered by the full court comprising Chief Justice Raja Saeed Akram, Justice Khawaja Mohammad Nasim, Justice Raza Ali Khan and Justice Mohammad Younas Tahir (ad-hoc judge) while disposing of three appeals against decisions of the AJK High Court given on April 3, April 4 and June 12 in 2018.

Authored by CJ Akram, the brief judgement was announced in Mirpur circuit, a day after the issuance of a notification by the AJK government about amendments to the AJK Local Government Rules, 1983 regarding the strength of population in wards for union councils, municipal corporations, municipal and town committees.

The court termed the notification “well-reasoned and strictly in accordance with guidelines given during proceedings of the case”. It was presented before the court by the Local Government and Rural Development Secretary Ejaz Ahmed Khan and Advocate General Assistant Mohammad Sajid Malik.

Region’s Supreme Court asks chief election commissioner to complete delimitation process within 45 days

Both officials informed the court that the PTI government intended to hold LB polls in AJK within a period of six months, not beyond August 2022.

They however, pleaded for grant of a reasonable time of at least two months for completion of the process of delimitation in light of the amended notification.

The court directed AJK’s chief election commissioner to start the process of delimitation and complete the same within a period of 45 days from Dec 21 and submit a compliance report to the apex court through registrar.

The government should make arrangements for holding free, fair and transparent elections within a period of six months from the completion of the process of delimitation, not beyond August, 2022, and elections should be conducted in the light of the census conducted in the year 2017, it declared.

Published in Dawn, December 22nd, 2021

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