SC refuses to entertain ECP plea to delay polls
12 November, 2013
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Monday refused to take up the Election Commission of Pakistan's plea for grant of four months' time for making all necessary arrangements, including the completion of pre-requisites, for holding local government elections in Punjab and Sindh.
Akram Shiekh, counsel for the ECP, appeared before a three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, on Monday and requested it to take up the miscellaneous application of the commission regarding delay in local bodies' elections in Punjab and Sindh for fourth months. He told the court that the Lahore High Court had directed the Punjab government to hold the local government elections on party basis, but no rules were framed in this regard.
Upon this, the chief justice said that this application was not fixed before the bench and whenever it is listed it would examine it. He also made it clear that only the provincial government can request a delay in the local government elections, and whenever it (the provincial government) makes a request the court would look into it. The chief justice observed that the Punjab government had itself given the date for the elections and it was the job of the commission to conduct them. He said the Punjab government could file an application for a delay in the LG elections like the Sindh government had done.
It has been learnt that the Supreme Court registrar office has not yet fixed the ECP petition for delay in the local government elections in Punjab and Sindh. "We are of the considered opinion that it should be the constitutional commitment and obligation of the provincial governments to hold local government elections for the purpose of allowing the country to ensure the participation of the public in the political, administrative and financial responsibility through their elected representatives," the court noted in its order and disposed of the matter.
During the hearing, Sindh Advocate General Khalid Javed submitted before the court that one of the reasons for seeking extension in elections in the province is Youm-e-Ashura, which is falling on November 14 and 15. He said that in respect of Muharram, no formal activities are taking place. He told the court that the Shia community's members had met with the Sindh chief minister and requested the provincial government to grant more time for holding of elections in the province.
The attorney general also contended that there are some logistical problems for the ECP, and stated that the Sindh government has fully honoured the orders of the apex court to ensure local government elections in the province. Taking into consideration the request made by the Sindh government, the court referred it to the Election Commission of Pakistan to accommodate it as it had already accommodated those by the other provinces.
The court also said it was the responsibility of the federal and provincial governments to hold local government elections. The ECP prayed to the apex court to allow it to make preparations for holding elections in Sindh and Punjab and then fix a date or dates in consultation with the provincial government concerned for holding elections in these provinces.