ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday informed the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that the federal government was not cooperating with it for holding the local government (LG) elections in Islamabad.

The counsel representing the ECP said the process for conducting the LG elections had almost been stalled since neither the federal government nor the relevant departments seemed interested in these elections.

He said the government departments also did not attend meetings convened to hold the elections.

IHC Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani was hearing identical petitions filed against the Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government Ordinance.

IHC reserves judgement on petitions challenging Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government Ordinance

He reserved the decision on the petitions after the counsel for the petitioners, ECP and the law officer of the federal government concluded arguments.

The judge questioned the legitimacy of the elections after expiry of the 120-day term of the presidential ordinance.

The petitioners included Mazdoor Union of the Capital Development Authority (CDA), CDA Officers Union and a former union council chairman.

In compliance with the court’s directions, the interior secretary, chief commissioner and deputy commissioner Islamabad were present in the courtroom.

Justice Kayani remarked that the conduct of the government showed that it was not interested in holding the elections.

During the course of hearing, CDA Mazdoor Union’s counsel Kashif Ali Malik pointed out that the CDA board was reconstituted under an ordinance that had lapsed after completing its constitutional term.

He argued that the ordinance provided for transfer of different formations of the civic body to the Municipal Corporation Islamabad (MCI) as it stated: “All wings of the CDA shall be transferred to MCI except the chairman secretariat, planning wing and estate wing.

“As a result, the mandate of the CDA to prepare a master plan under Section 11 of the CDA Ordinance 1960 has been made subservient to the local government of Islamabad.”

According to the counsel, CDA is vested with certain powers, including acquiring land, undertaking development work and performing revenue functions.

The petitions said the CDA board comprised six members, one each for planning, finance, administration, estate, environment and engineering, and the chairman.

Furthermore, the business of the authority is divided among different directorates in the manner given in the CDA Conduct of Business, Regulations 1985.

After promulgation of the CDA Amendment Ordinance 2021 on March 3, the CDA board was constituted and notified accordingly, the petitions said, adding the president recently promulgated Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government Ordinance 2021 which was inconsistent with the CDA ordinance and seemed to be an attempt at rendering provisions of the latter ineffective.

Barrister Umer Ijaz Gilani, representing CDA Officers Association, said the ordinance was legislation that had serious consequence for the provinces of Pakistan whose resources were used to build the federal capital. “Legislation of this nature and its implications both in terms of assets, finances and job prospects for the federating units, should have been debated in parliament,” adding that the fact it was not done violated the Constitution.

The counsel contended that this law is patently in excess of the mandate of Article 89 of the Constitution whose scope is limited to emergency legislation.

Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2022

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