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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC), Thursday, directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to hold Local Government (LG) elections in the federal capital within 120 days.

A two-member bench comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz issued the directions while hearing the Intra-Court Appeals (ICAs) of the ECP and the federal government against the single bench’s decision about the local bodies’ elections in the federal capital. The court ordered to hold the LG polls while nullifying the electoral body’s decision to defer the polls and disposed of the ICA.

The federation and the ECP filed the ICA and cited respondents including PTI leader Ali Nawaz Awan and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) leader Mian Muhammad Aslam. In the ICA, they had challenged a single-member bench’s verdict which had accepted the petition moved by Ali Nawaz Awan through his counsels, Sardar Taimoor Aslam Khan Advocate and Mudassar Abbas advocate challenging the ECP’s notification to postpone the local bodies’ elections in the federal capital which were scheduled to take place on December 31.

In its order, the IHC directed the ECP to hold local body elections within 120 days in the federal capital while preventing the number of union councils (UCs) from being increased from the present number of 125.

During the hearing, Justice Aamer asked that the legislation has been done and are the 125 UCs still there. He said the government had kept the authority of further increasing the number of UCs to itself. He added that in his opinion, there would not be a need of increasing the UCs for the next 10 years and the LG elections should be conducted at once.

At this, the ECP officials assured the court of holding the LG polls in Islamabad within 120 days. The court then asked the interior secretary if he would give a statement that the government will not increase the number of UCs before the elections.

The judge further said that “if you do not give this statement, the court will order that the UCs cannot be increased.” At this, the ECP officials said the electoral body will give the schedule of LG polls after conducting new delimitation.

The ECP’s Director General Law said in reference to the apex court’s ruling in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa election suo motu case that the Supreme Court has also given a verdict regarding the polls.

The IHC chief justice said that it was a matter of the provincial assembly elections. On this, the ECP officials said the commission was bound to consult with the federal government for LG polls as well.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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