ECP flouts IHC order on Islamabad LG polls

Centre, commission file intra-court appeals against verdict to hold elections on Dec 31

Our Correspondent December 31, 2022


The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was unable to comply with the Islamabad High Court’s order of holding the local government elections in Islamabad on December 31 (Saturday).

The electoral watchdog and the federal government filed intra-court appeals against the verdict.

The PTI, the co-petitioner in the case, also filed a contempt plea against the commission’s chief, its other officials, and interior as well as cabinet secretaries.

However, neither were these pleas heard on Saturday, nor have they been fixed for hearing on Monday, but benches will be formed to hear the pleas.

According to the plea filed by the federal government, the IHC on December 30 ordered that the Islamabad LG polls be held the next day.

It added that it was an impossible task to achieve because of the shortage of time.

The plea stated that the court, led by Justice Arbab Muhammad Tahir, had overlooked the ground realities as well as legal aspects.

It also read that the court had misinterpreted the law and facts.

The federal government complained that it was not given sufficient time to file its response.

It added that the IHC verdict was neither in compliance with the law, nor with the ground realities.

It also read that the constitutional status of the ECP was not even taken into account in the order.

The commission in its plea contended that there were several reasons for which the LG polls in Islamabad could not be held on December 31.

First, it maintained that the ballot papers had been printed and were present at the printing corporation, from where they had to be transferred to the offices of 14 returning officers.

It added that the returning officers had to take several measures after receiving the ballot papers.

Secondly, it stated that around 14,000 staffers were required to perform the election duties.

It added that the presence of election staff from Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir was also required.

Thirdly, the commission in its plea wrote that CCTV cameras needed to be installed at sensitive polling stations.

Holding LG polls in Islamabad under these circumstances was impossible, the commission wrote in its plea.

It asked that the IHC order should be suspended till its intra-court appeal was decided.

Despite the IHC order to hold the LG elections in the federal capital, the ECP staff could not reach the relevant polling stations where people stood in queue for hours.

PTI’s Ali Nawaz Awan submitted a contempt plea in the court for not abiding by the court’s order.

He nominated the chief election commissioner, ECP official, and interior as well as cabinet secretaries as respondents.

Speaking to the media, Awan claimed that the court’s order was “deliberately” not followed.

He demanded that the respondents should be meted out exemplary punishment.


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