ISLAMABAD: Uncertainty prevails over holding of local government elections in Islamabad as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday sought time to come up with a solution to settle the issue of delimitation.

Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court (IHC) Justice Athar Minallah directed the ECP to clear its position and take a categorical stance on petitions filed against holding of the LG elections on the basis of ‘outdated’ delimitation of 50 Union Councils (UCs) instead of the recently notified 101 UCs.

Justice Minallah was hearing the petitions filed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

The focus of all the three petitions was the ECP’s notification to hold the LG elections in 50 UCs of Islamabad. The Ministry of Interior had issued a notification, increasing the number of the union councils from 50 to 101.

IHC continues hearing petitions as ECP seeks time to settle issue of delimitation

The ECP had on June 2 issued a schedule for holding the elections in 50 union councils of the capital on July 31.

Under the schedule, over 1,000 people had obtained nomination papers from the district election office.

The ruling parties PML-N and the PPP and the opposition PTI approached the IHC, seeking a revised election schedule after the number of UCs was increased to 101.

During the course of hearing, Advocate General Islamabad Barrister Jahangir Khan Jadoon told the court that the government did not want any delay in the elections. However, on court’s query, he said that the fresh delimitation of the constituencies was required prior to the LG elections.

The ECP’s representative pointed out that IHC had previously set aside a presidential ordinance on the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Local Government Act and directed the ECP to hold the elections in accordance with the LG Act of 2015.

He said that the ECP had finalised arrangements for holding the LG elections and issued the schedule accordingly. However, the government has recently increased the number of the UCs.

Justice Minallah inquired from the ECP about the timeframe for the fresh delimitation.

Advocate Adil Aziz Qazi, counsel for the petitioners, told the court that the ECP had in January this year finalised the delimitation of 100 UCs.

Advocate General Jadoon added that delimitation of only a single UC was pending with the ECP.

Justice Minallah asked the counsel whether the ECP can withhold the LG elections.

Advocate Qazi replied that the government had increased the number of UCs whereas the ECP had announced the elections on 50 UCs.

When the court asked on which 50 UCs the ECP was going to hold the elections, Deputy Attorney General Raja Arshad said the government had already withdrawn the notification of 50 UCs of Islamabad in May.

Justice Minallah observed that the ECP was under obligation to hold elections in accordance with the notified UCs by the federal government.

ECP’s counsel requested the court for an adjournment so he could seek instructions and inform the court accordingly.

A petitioner belonging to the PTI had also challenged the transfer of votes from one UC to another.

The court on this petition issued notice to the ECP, the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) and clubbed it with the already pending petitions and adjourned hearing till June 22.

Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2022

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