ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday reserved its verdict on several petitions seeking the court’s intervention for constitutional amendments to legitimise the upcoming local bodies’ polls, remove objections involved in the delimitation process and to hold elections on party-basis elections, among other issues.
A division bench comprising Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi and Justice Aamer Farooq reserved the verdict after the counsels concluded their arguments.
On Tuesday, one of the counsels argued before the court that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) issued the schedule for the maiden LG elections last week despite the fact that the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) LG bill has not been approved by the Senate. The counsel argued that elections in the absence of a law would be illegal.
Another lawyer argued over holding elections on a party-basis. In his arguments, Advocate General (AG) Mian Abdul Rauf replied that the elections were being conducted on the Supreme Court’s orders and are legal.
Several citizens have gone to court saying that the delimitation process initiated by the ECP for LG elections is illegal and unconstitutional until the bill becomes law. They have also challenged the April 27 notification of the interior ministry regarding demarcation and structure of the local government in ICT.
One of the petitions states that Article 140-A of the Constitution does not empower parliament to legislate local government laws for ICT as the article only mentions the provinces and ICT is an independent federating unit separated from the provinces.
The petitioners’ counsel, Mubeenuddin Qazi, was of the view that the article requires each province to establish a LG system, which cannot be deemed to be applicable to ICT, without the insertion of the terms “ICT” or “Federal Territory” in the law through a constitutional amendment.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf leaders Asad Umar and Aamir Masood Mughal went to the court seeking directions against the respondents to conduct LG elections in Islamabad on a party-basis to ‘salvage and restore the delicately poised constitutional balance in accord with the norms of constitutional democracy’.
Some other residents of the capital have petitioned the IHC requesting it to declare the notification of the Ministry of Interior regarding demarcation and declaration of the local governments in the ICT — a Metropolitan Corporation and 79 Union Councils for the entire ICT — illegal.
Following the arguments, the court reserved the verdict and is expected to announce it on Wednesday (today).
Published in The Express Tribune, July 1st, 2015.