A five-member bench had reserved the verdict earlier in the day after arguments were concluded in the case…reports Asian Lite News
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Tuesday postponed the local government elections scheduled for December 31 in Islamabad, reported Geo News.
The polls scheduled for Dec 31 were deferred following a change in the union councils of the federal capital. The electoral body last week issued an order to continue the process of holding local government elections in the federal capital, saying that the union councils were increased in violation of the related law.
A five-member bench had reserved the verdict earlier in the day after arguments were concluded in the case. During today’s hearing, former attorney general Ashtar Ausaf, who is representing the federal government in the case, told the bench that the union councils were increased in Islamabad based on the increase in population, reported Geo News.
Ausaf told the bench that the census bureau had informed about the increase in Islamabad’s population, adding that the ECP must look at the increase in population.
“The Islamabad High Court (IHC) also recognised the increase in population but authorised the Election Commission to take the final decision after listening to the government’s point of view,” Ausaf told the bench.
“In the past, even after the schedule was released, elections were postponed. The Election Commission has to decide according to the constitution and the law,” said Ausaf, adding that the ECP cannot deprive citizens of their fundamental rights.
The lawyer also told the bench that the Parliament has passed the legislation increasing the number of union councils, adding that ECP must conduct delimitation in Islamabad in light of the new law, reported Geo News.
Meanwhile, a member of the ECP wondered why there was a sudden increase in the population in six months. The lawyer informed that the government reviewed NADRA’s data.
However, CEC Raja said that the delimitation of constituencies was done for Islamabad twice. He also gave the example of Punjab where the exercise was done twice and is now being done for the third time, reported Geo News.
“Why did the government not realise at the right time to increase the UCs,” asked CEC Raja. He added that UCs were increased once the election schedule was issued, saying that the government has put the electoral body in a difficult situation.
Meanwhile, PTI’s lawyer Babar Awan told the bench that the ECP has already issued the schedule and elections are supposed to be held on December 31, reminding that the law has been changed twice.
Awan said that the ECP was being misled by the government.
“If a mistake is made then the commission should provide assistance,” responded Ausaf. However, CEC Raja reminded the counsel that a mistake is made once not again and again.
Meanwhile, Justice (retd) Ikramullah Khan, a member of the bench, remarked that general elections are also supposed to be held, and wondered what would happen to the future of local body elections.
On the other hand, CEC Raja said that the ECP fears that the government may change the UCs again, adding that the government has to stop this at some point, reported Geo News.
Jamaat-e-Islami’s (JI) counsel Hassan Javed reminded the bench that the people of Islamabad have been deprived of representation for the last two years.
He told the bench that his party is standing with the ECP. He added that the IHC in its judgment did not challenge the ECP’s order, reported Geo News.
After listening to all the parties, CEC Raja, while wrapping up the hearing, remarked that the voter list has no link with the election schedule.
The bench after hearing all the arguments reserved its verdict in the case. (ANI)