KARACHI: While the by-election on a total of 93 union committees/councils across the province are scheduled for April 18, the Sindh government on Monday approached the Election Commission of Pakistan and demanded that elections to the office of mayors, deputy mayors, chairmen and vice chairmen be held immediately.

In a letter dated March 27, the provincial government pointed out that the ECP’s decision to hold by-elections on the vacant LG seats appeared to be not in consonance with the Constitution as it impeded the elections of the heads of the local government institutions.

The ECP had on March 17 issued the schedule of by-elections on as many as 93 UCs in 26 districts, including 11 in Karachi division.

Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had already rejected the ECP’s decision to hold by-polls in the province during Ramazan and asked the provincial government to move court against the election schedule.

Wahab says govt to move SHC if Election Commission rejects its ‘request’

Chief Minister’s Law Adviser Barrister Murtaza Wahab told a press conference on Monday that the Sindh government had sent a letter to the ECP through which the constitutional body was reminded that after several months, the elections for reserved seats had not been held, due to which the elections of chairmen/vice-chairmen have been delayed, and the representatives of the local government have yet to be able to take an oath.

“If the ECP turns down the Sindh government’s request, the Sindh High Court will be moved for remedy,” Barrister Wahab explained.

In the letter, the provincial government stated that as per Section 219 of the Elections Act, 2017 the ECP shall conduct elections to the local governments under the applicable local government law and the rules framed thereunder, as may be applicable to a province.

“The government of Sindh feels that it is its duty to establish the local government system as mandated by the Constitution and thereby depriving the people of their elected government system despite elections in June 2022 (1st phase) and January 2023 (2nd phase) defeats the entire exercise that has taken place,” reads the letter, a copy of which is available with Dawn.

“The government feels that the challenges faced by a common man especially at the time of the unprecedented floods, the elected local representatives were deprived of their right to serve their constituents despite being duly elected by unfortunately having not taken oaths of their office they could not perform their statutory duties,” it said.

The provincial government said that the elections to the reserved seats under Section 18-A of the Sindh Local Government Act (SLGA) had not been held since the process of direct local government elections had been completed months ago.

“Instead of proceeding with the elections to the reserved seats as provided under the SLGA, it has come on record that the ECP intends to hold the by-elections on April 18 without any notification with regards to the election to the reserved seats, which prima facie appears to be not in consonance with Article 140-A of the Constitution since it delays or impedes the election of the respective mayors, deputy mayors, chairmen and vice-chairmen,” it added.

The provincial government demanded that the ECP proceed with the elections to reserved seats and thereafter, hold elections of the mayors, deputy mayors, chairmen and vice chairmen at the earliest “so that the mandate of Article 140-A of the Constitution is fully fulfilled by both the ECP and provincial government”.

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2023

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