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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Wednesday allowed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold the phase-II of the local government (LG) elections in Sindh as per schedule.

“We are not inclined to express our view on the delimitation of constituencies to disturb the schedule,” said the short order of a three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial. The bench on Wednesday heard the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) petition against the delimitation of constituencies for the phase-II of the Local Government elections in Sindh.

The order further said that the LG elections which are being held after two and a half years must not be stalled. The bench after hearing the arguments of the parties’ lawyers disposed of the petitions.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Jamaat-e-Islami, and Fehmida Mirza, leader of the Grand Democratic Alliance supported the phase-II LG polls be held on 28-08-2022.

Farogh Naseem, who represented the MQM-P, was asked to approach the competent forum for the redressal of the grievances. The MQM-P had challenged the vires of Section 10(1) of Sindh Local Government Act, 2013, which was inserted through amendment in 2015. The counsel urged that the authority under the Sindh Act for delimitation of the constituencies conflicts with the Supreme Court judgment 2014.

LG polls in Sindh: SC concerned over delimitation of constituencies for Phase-II

The court noted that these points were not addressed by the petitioner before the Sindh High Court (SHC) in its original application. The chief justice said the points raised before the Supreme Court were included in their amended petition before the SHC, therefore, has given no finding on it.

Advocate General Sindh Hassan Akbar said that the delimitation of the constituencies was carried out jointly by the officers of the provincial government and the ECP.

Salahuddin Ahmed, appearing on behalf of the PTI, supported the completion of the second phase of the LG polls. He stated; “Half of the elections have been completed and it is not good to nullify the second phase. It will be unfair and let the election may continue as it is scheduled.”

Salahuddin, however, asked the bench that the Supreme Court’s judgment dated 01-02-2022, wherein, some directions were given to the Sindh government to hand over certain departments to the local governments be implemented. The bench told the PTI lawyer that at this stage it is not possible to consider his request, but he can file a fresh application for the implementation of the SC’s verdict, added the bench.

The AG Sindh said that the matter is before the select committee of the Sindh Assembly, where the consensus has been developed among the political parties to empower the LGs as per Article 140-A of the constitution. The chief justice said there is an obligation on the Sindh government to comply with the directions.

Fehmida told the Court that she was representing the people of Badin, adding that the local voters have dislocated and new voters included in Badin constituency. She submitted that the people in Sindh are losing faith in the elections, and they are suffering due to the negligence of the provincial government. At the onset of the hearing, Khalid Jawed, representing some candidates of Phase-II LG polls, told that the petitioner has the remedy before the ECP, which has already reserved its decision on their application. He further argued the MQM-P had filed the writ petition before the SHC, which had dismissed it in 2016, adding the petitioner did not challenge the high court before the apex court.

He requested the court to allow the LG elections be held according to the schedule.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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