The chairman of the upper house of parliament has given a ruling against holding of local bodies’ elections in the federal capital under Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government Bill 2015, which, he says, has not yet become a law.
“As Senate chairman, I have taken oath under clause (2) of Article 53 read with Article 61 in the form set out in the Third Schedule of the Constitution of 1973 to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution,” said Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani on Monday.
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Rabbani was responding to concerns of various lawmakers, who pointed out that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had breached the privilege of parliament by issuing various notifications and circulars for the local government elections in Islamabad.
The ECP has also filed a petition in the Supreme Court, requesting it to direct the government to expedite the passage of the bill by parliament. The top court has also asked the government to inform it today (Tuesday) about the status of the bill pending in the Senate.
Citing various notifications and circulars, Rabbani said it appeared that the ECP had placed in juxtaposition a proposal for legislation which has been moved under Article 70 of the Constitution of 1973. “The parliament cannot allow fetters to be placed on the process of legislation under Article 70 of the Constitution,” he added.
He said if such a precedent was allowed to develop, it could not only “have horrific, horrendous and chaotic consequences, but shall negate the entire process stipulated under Article 70, and Rules of Procedure framed under Article 67 of the Constitution, 1973.”
The Senate chairman said issue involved in the Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government Bill 2015 was that whether the federal government or any other body or institution working or functioning through or under the Constitution could draw legal legitimacy for actions or procedures undertaken on the House of the Parliament.
Earlier Pakistan Peoples Party Senator Saeed Ghani said under Article 70 of the Constitution, any bill has to be introduced by first going to the National Assembly, which sends it to Senate after approval from where it is referred to a committee.
“The Local Government Bill 2015 is still pending in the Senate and the committee is deliberating on it by holding public hearings but in spite of that the ECP is going ahead with it,” he said. Ghani said the bill passed by the National Assembly recommended LG elections on non-party basis whereas Senate has recommended party-based elections and the committee was evolving consensus among all parties for amendments.
Read: Seeking stay: PML-N leader petitions SC against LG polls
“But the ECP is planning to hold party-based elections in Islamabad,” he said, adding that such an act was unlawful and unconstitutional on the part of the Supreme Court and the ECP.
Senator Talha Mahmood asked as to how LG elections were going to take place in Islamabad while the bill had not been passed by the Senate. He termed it a privilege breach and called for an investigation into the case.
Speaking on the issue, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said the fundamental principle of any democracy is the trichotomy of powers and the powers are clearly delineated among the judiciary, the executive and the legislature.
“In this case, there seems to be a willful violation of the Constitution and undermining position and authority of parliament,” he added. Sayed said the Senate should take notice of this because it was unacceptable and a transgression of the limits of power.
“I will endorse that the Senate should take notice of this thing.
“All proceedings of the election should be stopped herewith till the Senate completes its legislation which is a constitutional requirement and all other institutions, whether it is the Supreme Court or the ECP, are duty-bound to uphold the Constitution as well as the supremacy of parliament in making legislation and laws in this country,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2015.