Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday told the apex court it would not be able to complete the delimitation process for local government (LG) elections in Sindh and Punjab within 45 days.
Submitting two review petitions on behalf of the ECP, Advocate Akram Sheikh requested the Supreme Court to revisit its March 19 and March 20 verdicts to complete the delimitation process in two provinces within 45 days.
The apex court had given five months to the federal and provincial governments to do the appropriate legislation to empower the ECP to carry out the delimitation process for LG polls. After the legislation, the commission is allowed only 45 days to complete delimitation process so that elections can be held by November 15, 2014.
The petition said that undertaking delimitation of constituencies for the LG polls in Punjab would be a huge exercise, including several steps.
“Each such step will require to be completed within the timeframe given in rules for completing each such activity, which is to be mentioned in the rules,” the ECP submitted in its petitions, available with The Express Tribune.
The ECP said it had sought opinion from the provincial election commissioners as to how much time would be required to accomplish the task of delimitation. They suggested that approximately 6 to 9 months were needed for the completion of the task, it added.
It said there was every likelihood that the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) might also seek indulgence of the court to authorise the ECP to carry out delimitation process and there was an overwhelming possibility that request of the K-P government would be acceded to by the SC.
“[in this case] the ECP may have to initiate the process of delimitation of constituencies for the local government elections in three provinces simultaneously or in tandem, followed by the issuance of election programmes for holding elections in these provinces.”
The petitions pointed out that Local Government Acts of Sindh and Balochistan allowed 60 to 120 days for holding the LG polls after the receipt of formal request from provincial government. But no such timeframe had been provided in local government Acts of Punjab and the K-P, it added.
“Keeping in view the sensitivity of the matter and to ensure fairness ad transparency of the elections, this court may consider allowing minimum 90 days time to the ECP to conduct local government elections in the provinces of Punjab and the K-P on the analogy of Sindh and Balochistan,” the commission requested.
It also recommended that the provincial legislature might provide timelines for completion of various activities involved in the delimitation of constituencies. “It will be appropriate, if the time for completion of delimitation is left open either to be decided by the legislature or the ECP,” it said.
The commission said if the court thought to give a timeframe then it might consider the appropriateness of extending the time to a reasonable limit allowing the ECP to complete the ‘gigantic task’ of delimitation process in a free, fair and transparent manner.
The ECP further pointed out that last local government elections were held in all the four provinces in 2005 and the term of local governments expired on December 31, 2010. A senior ECP official told The Express Tribune that if the ECP’s fresh plea was accepted then the LG polls might be deferred in Punjab and Sindh till May next year.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2014.