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SC ordered EC to hold secret balloting for Sindh mayor, deputy mayor election

16 April, 2016

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan to hold the elections for the slots of mayor, deputy mayor, chairman and vice-chairman in Sindh through secret balloting.

The apex court directed the commission to ensure completion of the local government election process for the reserved seats as well as the said posts in Sindh within 60 days.

The top court ruled that the allotment of five percent quota for youth and increasing ratio for women reserved seats from 22 percent to 33 percent through the third amendment in Sindh Local Government Act, 2013 is held to be validly legislated.

“The amendment brought into effect by the Province of Sindh vide Sindh Local Government (Third Amendment) Act, 2015 (Sindh Act No XXXVIII of 2015) with effect from 25.8.2015, as regards introduction of 05 percent reserved seats for ‘Youth’ and increase in the number of reserved seats for women from 22 percent to 33 percent, is held to be validly legislated; thus, to remain operative,” stated the detailed judgment announced by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali on Friday.

In January this year, the ruling Pakistan People’s Party in Sindh had changed the mode of elections for above said slots from secret balloting to show of hands. However, the opposition benches including Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had opposed the amendment and challenged it in the Sindh High Court (SHC).

The SHC in February reinstated the original act, wherein the mode of elections was prescribed with secret balloting, but the Sindh government challenged the verdict in the Supreme Court (SC).

While modifying the SHC judgment, the top court ruled that the elections for all the reserved seats would be held in accordance with Section 18-A of the SLGA, 2013, adding the said act would be revived from Section 18 to Section 18-A through further amendment by the Sindh government.

“All the reserved seats as prescribed under Section 18 shall be filled up in terms of Section 18A of the Sindh Local Government Act, 2013, which will be revived and such amendment will be brought into effect by the government immediately,” stated the verdict.

The top court also held that if the proposed amendment was not made within two weeks, the reserved seats would be filled up as prescribed by the law. “In case requisite legislative amendment is not made within two weeks, these seats shall be filled up in the manner as otherwise prescribed by law,” the judgment said.

The court ruled that even though the government had the right to legislate to hold such elections either by show of hands or secret balloting, in the present case the amendment was made after announcement of the election schedule which is of no legal effect.

“It is within the competence of the Sindh government to legislate law to hold such elections either through show of hands or secret ballot, however, in the present case, such amendment has been brought into effect on January 18, 2016, after the announcement of election schedule on August 26, 2015, therefore, such amendment is of no legal effect, and as per the Sindh Act No XXXVIII of 2015, the ensuing elections for these posts will be held through secret ballot,” the judgment read.

All notifications regarding transfers and posting of bureaucrats issued by the appellant, the Sindh government, after the date of announcement of election schedule without prior approval from the Election Commission of Pakistan, are declared to be without jurisdiction and of no legal effect, the court said

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