SC allows ECP to revise LG polls schedule


The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to the Election Commission of Pakistan’s proposal to delay the local bodies (LB) polls in Punjab and Sindh.
According to the ECP’s new proposed schedule, polls in Punjab would be held on January 30; in Sindh on January 18; and in KP and cantonment areas in February.
The flexibility on the part of the SC came after thousands of candidates suffered in the name of filing of nomination papers.
“Since, in Punjab we have to hold elections on party basis, so defiantly, those who have submitted nomination papers they would have to file their nomination papers afresh. As earlier, there were some lacunae in the nomination papers, which were issued in haste,” says Secretary ECP Ishtiak Ahmed Khan.
He, however, said the candidates who had already filed nomination papers were not required to deposit security.
A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, while accepting the ECP’s application allowed it to hold elections in accordance with the new schedule.
Earlier, on Tuesday, the SC registrar had rejected the ECP’s petition, saying that the court had already disposed of the case, but things changed late night. Sources in ECP said that the acting chief election commissioner asked the registrar to hear the petition, as holding the LB polls in the line of SC orders was impossible for the ECP.
The SC had directed the ECP to hold polls in Punjab and Sindh on December 7 and in Balochistan on November 27. However, the ECP, on account of certain practical and technical difficulties, showed its inability to hold elections in given time.
Sources said the ECP sent a letter to the registrar highlighting all difficulties being faced by the ECP and proposing new dates for Punjab, Sindh, KP and cantonment area, this letter was converted into a petition.
In the letter, the ECP told the SC that the commission was all set to hold polls in Balochistan on December 7. The court order said, “It is obligation of the government to adhere to the constitution in letter and spirit and no one can be allowed in any manner, to deviate from any of its provisions particularly in view of the fact that the Constitution is a binding document as it has been given by 18 crore people of this country to themselves. Therefore, its provisions particularly relating to the general public empowering them politically, administratively and financially through their chosen representatives by establishing the system of the local government in terms of Articles 32 and 140A of the Constitution should be strictly observed. However, preceding to the above observations, orders were repeatedly passed by this court calling upon the provincial governments as well as the federal government to hold local bodies elections as early as could be possible as it is the command of the constitution and no deviation from the constitution is possible.”