The country’s top court on Monday sought an update from the government on the status of the legislation on local government system in the federal capital.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice Jawwad S Khawaja directed the government attorney to inform the court on Tuesday on the status of the Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government Bill 2015 bill pending in the Senate.
The bench expressed doubts over holding of local government elections as per schedule and directed the additional attorney-general to present the government’s point of view on the status of the bill pending before the Senate.
Read: Senate rules against LG polls in Islamabad
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has filed a petition requesting the court to direct the government to expedite the passage of the bill from the parliament.
During the course of hearing, Justice Sheikh Azmat expressed his apprehension that the local bodies’ elections might not take place as per schedule on July 25 as announced by the ECP if the bill is not approved before Eid.
This remark came after ECP secretary informed the court that the bill was currently pending before the Senate. It [Senate] was of the view that the draft of the bill, approved by the National Assembly on March 26, contains a number of shortcomings and flaws.
The ECP official said if the Senate adopts the bill with amendments then it would be sent back to the lower house for a fresh vote and if it happens then there are bleak chances of the bill’s approval from the parliament before Eid.
Justice Khawaja remarked that citizens of Islamabad had fundamental and constitutional rights to choose their representatives adding provisions of the Constitution cannot be kept aside.
The election commission also sought guidance from the court over the issue saying the time was limited and it had yet to order printing of ballot papers while legislation was still pending.
ECP almost completes process
Although the ECP has almost completed preparations for holding polls by publishing list of contesting candidates and allotting election symbols to them, the fate of the local government elections still hangs in the balance.
The election process has been completed as per schedule in line with a Supreme Court judgment in this regard, ECP spokesperson Khurshid Alam said.
The final list of contesting candidates and their election symbols would be displaced at the offices of 13 returning officers.
“ECP headquarters has not received the final list so far, as it is under compilation at the offices of returning officers,” Alam said adding it would be displayed on the ECP’s official website on Tuesday.
Alam said some 4,190 candidates had filed nomination papers for different seats. Over 3,500 candidates would contest the election as a number of candidates had withdrawn nomination papers while some were rejected by the returning officers.
Read: With or without legislation: ECP sticks to its guns
ECP started the electoral process on June 24 inviting nomination papers.
He said preparations were done keeping in mind the local government elections on non-party basis and now, as it is widely believed, if it was decided that elections would be held on party basis then ECP would conduct the whole electoral exercise afresh.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2015.