Local government: Sindh government files appeal against court order to hold elections in 60 days

It is not possible to hold elections at this stage, says govt advocate.

Our Correspondent August 06, 2012

KARACHI: The Sindh government has gone to the Supreme Court to appeal against an order from the Sindh High Court to hold local government elections. The SHC said in its short order that it was giving the Sindh government 90 days to hold elections. Two months are left to the deadline.

On May 18, 2012, a high court bench headed by Justice Faisal Arab ordered the Sindh government to hold elections in 90 days. This was the outcome of a petition filed by Dr Raheela Gul Magsi, a former nazim.

The system of running Sindh’s cities expired legally in February 2010. Elections were supposed to take place in 120 days – but 18 months have passed. In the meanwhile, a bureaucrat has been running Karachi as opposed to an elected representative.

On Monday, the Sindh Advocate General filed the appeal through Mrs Sheeraj Iqbal Choudhry, the Advocate on Record, naming the chief election commissioner and Dr Raheela Gul Magsi as respondents.

The Sindh government maintains that it had sixty days left to file an appeal against the high court order. It is still waiting for a detailed judgment in the high court’s order, however. Sindh is not the only province to have gone to court to seek more time to hold local government elections. The other provinces’ appeals are also pending adjudication.

As the Sindh Local Government Ordinance 2001 had lapsed, the government restored the local government system of 1979. Now under the 1979 law, the government has to again carry out the exercise of the delimitation of the constituencies and unless this is done, local government elections cannot be held, contends the Sindh government.

Its appeal also maintained that a new draft law of the local government system was being discussed by stakeholders and the government was consulting all major political forces before the new piece of legislation would be placed before the Sindh Assembly for a vote.

In these circumstances, holding elections on the high court’s orders is not possible. The general elections could also be affected, contended the Sindh government.

The Sindh government says it had filed requests for a detailed Sindh High Court judgment but it got no response which is why it has gone to the Supreme Court.

The Sindh government’s appeal was received at the Karachi registry of the Supreme Court and was forwarded to the principal seat for an order by the chief justice of Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2012.

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