The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday dismissed different petitions seeking the court’s intervention for constitutional amendments to legitimise the upcoming local bodies polls, remove objections involved in the process of delimitation and to hold party basis elections, among other things, saying the matter was subjudice as well as not maintainable.
The IHC ruled that though the local government bill for the capital is in its final stages, pending approval from the Senate, in view of orders passed by the Supreme Court the court is not in a position to interfere in the process by invoking writ jurisdiction under Article 199 of the Constitution as the matter is still subjudice before the Supreme Court.
“At this juncture, we can neither interpret nor pass any order contrary to the orders already passed by the Supreme Court,” the bench comprising Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi and Justice Aamer Farooq stated. “All these writ petitions, in the present form, are not maintainable, which are hereby dismissed,” it added.
The petitioners, however, are at liberty to raise all the issues contained in these writ petitions before the Supreme Court where the subject matter is still pending, the verdict read.
In the judgment, the court observed that in some of these writ petitions, vires of the proposed bill of the Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government Act, 2015 have been challenged, whereas in other writ petitions, the process for conducting LG elections in ICT in pursuance of the proposed bill has also been challenged.
It is apparent from the record that the process for conducting LG elections in ICT has been initiated by the ECP under orders of the Supreme Court which are binding upon this court in view of Article 189 of the Constitution, the judgment further stated.
The court had clubbed several petitions and reserved the verdict after counsels concluded their arguments on Tuesday.
One of the counsels had argued before the court that the ECP issued the schedule for the maiden LG elections last week despite the fact that the bill has not been approved by the Senate. The counsel had argued that election in the absence of a law would be illegal. Another lawyer had argued over holding elections on party basis.
In his arguments, Advocate General Mian Abdul Rauf had replied that the elections were being conducted on the Supreme Court’s orders and are legal.
Several citizens also went to the court saying the delimitation process initiated by ECP is illegal and unconstitutional until the bill becomes law. They also challenged the April 27 notification of the interior ministry regarding demarcation and structure of the local government in ICT.
One of the petitions stated 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 had maintained 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 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 also petitioned the IHC requesting the court 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 — as illegal.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 2nd, 2015.
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