The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to proceed with the second phase of the local government elections in Sindh as per the schedule announced last month.
In July, the electoral body announced that the second phase of the polls had been postponed due to possible monsoon rains in the province in addition to Muharram. The polls were supposed to be held on July 24, but after the change in date, they would now take place on August 28.
However, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) had sought a restraining order from the top court against the second phase of the local elections in Sindh.
Leading a three-member bench, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial asked the MQM-P to take the issue of the delimitation of constituencies to the relevant forum.
Meanwhile, a Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) leader also requested the bench not to pass any order which could delay the LG elections in Karachi. The counsel representing the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Salahuddin Ahmed, also supported the timely elections.
On Tuesday, while hearing the MQM-P’s argument, Chief Justice Bandial remarked that the acceptance of their argument would impact the constituencies of the National and Provincial Assemblies. He then pointed out that the same principle was applied in drawing constituencies back in 2015 when the party’s mayor was elected.
The judge said that the provincial government had the authority to legislate regarding local government polls, adding that some errors were visible in its implementation, and the court could only point out those flaws. He wondered whether the electoral body could ignore these errors, especially when there was more than 100 percent difference in the population of some union committees, and proceed with the polls.
The chief justice then sought an explanation from the provincial government regarding factors which determine the constituencies.
In June, the Sindh High Court (SHC) rejected pleas filed by major political parties, including the MQM-P to delay the local government elections. The SHC, while rejecting the plea to halt elections, had directed the ECP to hold the polls in the province as per the schedule.
However, earlier this week, Dr Farogh Naseem, the lawyer for MQM-P, in his written response submitted to the apex court, mentioned that the high court had been “factually and legally incorrect” in stating that no specific order of delimitation was challenged. He also challenged SHC’s stance that the petitioners could not establish the dominating role of revenue officers who were part of the delimitation committee.
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