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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to decide about the second phase of Local Government elections in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa after hearing the KP government’s stance.

A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Ijazul Ahsan, on Monday, heard an appeal of the ECP against the PHC’s decision. The bench after hearing the arguments disposed of the case.

The bench rejected the KP plea against the Election Commission schedule for the second phase of the LB polls.

At the onset of the proceeding, the advocate general KP, opposing the schedule announced by the ECP, said that the provincial government was not consulted by the Commission.

However, the ECP’s counsel informed that the KP government was asked to present its arguments. The bench directed the ECP to settle the matter after hearing the KP government.

The Supreme Court on February 9 had suspended the Peshawar High Court (PHC)’s verdict to postpone the second phase of LG elections in the KP, which were scheduled on March 27.

Now according to the ECP’s notification, the LB polls in the KP would be held on March 31.

Advocate Afnan Karim Kundi, representing the ECP, argued that the PHC’s Abbottabad bench without hearing them postponed the LG elections schedule, adding the notice for February 1 hearing was received on the 2nd February. He said by the time notice was received, the PHC had already postponed the elections.

Kundi said the petition was filed to postpone LG polls in five districts, but the high court postponed the second phase of the LG polls in 18 districts. The counsel for the complainant informed that due to weather conditions elections could not be held on March 27. The court noted that the PHC should have heard the ECP before deciding the matter.

The PHC Abbottabad Bench, on February 4, had postponed the next phase of the LG elections in KP. The high court had directed the electoral body to hold the elections after Ramzan, keeping in view the harsh weather forecast next month.

The court had also suspended the ECP’s notification dated January 20, 2022, regarding holding of the second phase of the local body polls in 18 districts of the K-P on March 27, 2022.

The PHC’s Abbottabad bench had issued the directions, while hearing a petition filed by a citizen, who contended that various districts in the province would be shut by heavy snow in March, following which the voters would struggle to reach polling stations under severe cold and through snow-covered roads.

The ECP had on January 20 announced the schedule and a code of conduct for the second phase of local government elections in 18 districts of the province. The first phase of elections was held in 17 districts on December 19.

The PHC’s bench had directed the authorities to ensure law and order situation and weather conditions were normal in areas where polls were to be held.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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