The Sindh High Court (SHC) has reserved its decision on the petitions related to the delay in local body elections in Karachi and Hyderabad.
A two-member bench headed by Chief Justice Sindh High Court Justice Ahmed Ali Sheikh heard the petitions of Jamaat-e-Islami and PTI regarding the holding of municipal elections in Karachi and Hyderabad.
Jamaat-e-Islami's Karachi Ameer, Hafiz Naeem-ur- Rehman and Saifuddin Advocate, MQM's Khawaja Izhar-ul-Hassan and Waseem Akhtar, PTI's Haleem Adil Sheikh and other leaders appeared before the court.
Sindh chief secretary, election commissioner Ejaz Chauhan, advocate general, IG Sindh Ghulam Nabi Memon also appeared in the court.
On behalf of Jamaat-e-Islami, Usman Farooq Advocate from MQM, Tariq Mansoor Advocate and other lawyers also appeared in the court.
The court called the chief secretary and IG Sindh to the rostrum. The IG said, "We are coordinating."
The chief justice remarked that you have to conduct the elections not the coordination.
The CJ asked the election commissioner, "When the elections will be held? You should do it in phases, Hyderabad in the first phase and Karachi in the second. Elections will have to be held at any cost. We give orders to the IG to provide security for the polls. In how many days will you conduct the elections?" The CJ said, "These are the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan."
The election commissioner replied, "We are ready to conduct the elections in Karachi and Hyderabad."
The court remarked, "Why do you want to be a victim of contempt of the court by violating the Supreme Court orders. If elections cannot be held simultaneously, they should be held in phases.
The CJ inquired from the election commissioner, are the police not providing any security?
IG Sindh said, "We are short of personnel. In 2015, around 22,000 personnel were deployed during the local body elections and now 45,000 personnel are required."
MQM's lawyer Tariq Mansoor advocate stated that we should also be heard.
The CJ asked the MQM counsel that, whether you want the elections to be held or not?
Tariq Mansoor advocate said, please see the application. On which, the CJ remarked, "We don't want the pile of papers. Tell us, what do you want?"
The court stopped Khawaja Izhar from speaking further and remarked, "Khawaja Sahib, you should sit down and former Mayor Sahib and former mayor should sit down. We can't allow both of you to speak simultaneously."
The MQM-Pakistan lawyer that our main concern is that, the conduct of free, fair and transparent elections without the amendments is not possible. We are told by the election commission that there are also security issues due to the defence exhibition. On Tuesday, there will be a meeting of the election commission in which parties have been called.
The court also stopped the lawyer of Jamaat-e-Islami from speaking.
The CJ remarked, "You should not get personal; everyone has the right to speak".
MQM's lawyer stated that we want the Supreme Court's decision on empowering local bodies should be implemented.
PTI's lawyer Abdul Wahab Baloch stated that the election was postponed for three times. They say there is a shortage of police personnel while 6,000 personnel were sent to Islamabad to stop the long march. The election commission has complete authority to conduct the elections. An immediate conduct of election should be ordered.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2022.
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