ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) today ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold local government elections in the capital tomorrow (Saturday)
IHC’s Justice Arbab Muhammad Tahir accepted the petitions of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) seeking to nullify ECP’s decision to postpone the local government elections.
In its one-page short order, the high court asked the federal government to ensure that “it assists the election commission in holding the local government polls”.
“The Ministry of Interior’s December 19 notification has been declared null and void and so is the December 27 notification of the election commission,” the order added.
The election commission had deferred the polls after the federal government increased the number of union councils (UCs) in the capital without taking the former into confidence.
Before reserving the verdict, the court had expressed displeasure over the federal government’s attitude. “We are disappointed in the government [lack of engagement],” the court said.
Additional Attorney-General of Pakistan Munawar Iqbal Duggal told the court that federal government and ECP officials held a meeting earlier in the day.
“Due to a shortage of time, we could not take into account the comments,” the AAG said, to which the court questioned that is the federal government so incompetent that it cannot send its response to a petition.
In response, Duggal said that even if the government readies an answer, it cannot be forwarded without approval from the Ministry of Law and Justice.
The judge then asked what was the reason behind increasing the number of UCs 12 days prior to the elections and also questioned whether the government could promise to hold the polls or not.
“This the government’s prerogative whether it wants to hold the polls,” the AAG said, to which the court asked how many times has this power been exercised in 2022.
The AAG told the court that the power has been exercised twice this year.
PTI leader Ali Nawaz Awan and Jamaat-e-Islami moved the IHC yesterday seeking to quash the ECP’s decision to postpone local government elections in Islamabad.
The petitioner made the cabinet secretary, the interior secretary and the Election Commission of Pakistan parties to the petition.
Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, Metropolitan Corporation and District Election Commission were also made respondents.
According to Awan, the order is “violative of Article 75 (3) of the Constitution”.
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