KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Tuesday directed the Election Commission of Pakistan to conduct local government elections in Sindh within 120 days in accordance with the law.The direction came on a petition against non-holding of local bodies elections in the province.
The ECP counsel, Umer Lakhani, filed a statement on behalf of special secretary ECP Zafar Iqbal Hussain and submitted that the term of local government councils expired on August 30 and under Section 219 (4) of the election Act and Section 21 (3) of the Sindh Local Government Act 2013, it is the mandate of ECP to conduct local government elections within a period of 120 days after expiry of their term.
He submitted that the ECP was fully committed to conducting the local government elections following provision of notifications regarding number of seats/constituencies of the local government and requisite map, any situation beyond the control of ECP or any court order or legal hindrance.
The petitioner also produced a notification issued by the Sindh local government board showing that all offices of the elected mayors, deputy mayor, chairman, vice chairman, representatives of metropolitan committees, union committees and union councils in Sindh shall cease to exist from August 31.
The ECP counsel submitted that 120 days period for holding of elections is provided under the Section 219 of the Election Act, which starts from August 31. The SHC division bench, headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar after taking the ECP secretary on record, directed the ECP to conduct the local bodies election in Sindh within 120 days, in accordance with the law.
The petitioner, Syed Mehmood Akhtar Naqvi, submitted that the Article 140-A of the Constitution makes it incumbent to hold local bodies elections in the provinces but the provincial government and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) were not taking steps to hold them.
He said the notifications to announce the elected representatives of the current local bodies were issued by the ECP on December 3 2015, December 26 2015, and January 1 2016, and according to those, the entire local bodies had completed their tenure and the elected representatives were now illegally holding their offices. He claimed that government was using delaying tactics for holding of local bodies election to usurp the Rs.78 billion funds of the Karachi.
Naqvi submitted that the provincial government was delaying the local bodies elections by not issuing a letter to the ECP. The high court was requested to direct the ECP to hold local bodies elections as per its mandate under the constitution.