SC seeks ECP reply on K-P local body polls

Justice Bandial questions why LB elections cannot be held on party basis in the province


Our Correspondent November 25, 2021
PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD:

The Supreme Court on Thursday issued a notice to the Election Commission of Pakistan in a case pertaining to the Peshawar High Court’s (PHC) decision regarding local body elections in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).

The PHC had declared the provision of K-P Local Government Act for holding elections of village and neighbourhood councils on non-party basis as unconstitutional.

A division bench, presided by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, heard the case.

During the proceedings, the court appointed K-P advocate general and other parties as amicus curiae in the matter.

Justice Bandial said that the parties involved belong to political parties and Khushdil Khan is a member of the provincial assembly, while Kamran Murtaza is a senator.

“All parties should remain neutral as amicus curiae, and aim for fair and transparent elections,” Justice Bandial added. Justice Bandial also questioned why local body elections cannot be held on party basis in the province.

K-P Advocate General Shamail Butt replied that the PHC did not disclose its reasons in the decision.

“The PHC has ordered local body elections on December 19,” Butt said. Justice Bandial remarked, “Let’s wait for the reasons in the detailed decision of the PHC.”

Read Funds for ECP to hold local body polls in K-P

According to the advocate general, there is no legal mechanism for holding elections on party basis, and if the government did agree to hold local body elections on party basis, there is no scope for it within the law.

Justice Bandial asked the advocate to bring forth the ordinance, emphasising that the other three provinces hold local body elections on party basis. “What is wrong in adopting the mechanism of other provinces?”

Butt said, “The high court should have given time for the elections, instead of providing a schedule. This will be the first election of its kind to have three candidates from the same party with election symbols on the same ballot paper.”

Butt questioned how illiterate voters will distinguish between the symbols and decide who they should vote for.

To this, Justice Bandial asked what amendment could be made to the law which would make village council elections party-based.

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