IHC serves notice to ECP for delaying local polls in capital

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The Islamabad High Court Wednesday served a notice to the Election Commission of Pakistan for delaying local body polls, scheduled to take place on December 31, in the federal capital.

The development came after Justice Arbab Muhammad Tahir took up the petition of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Jamaat-e-Islami seeking to nullify ECP’s decision to postpone the local government elections in Islamabad.

The IHC also issued a notice to Attorney-General for Pakistan Mansoor Usman Awan for assisting the court in the hearing. The plea was filed as the ECP delayed the polls a day earlier after it held a hearing and listened to all the parties involved in the matter, upon the IHC’s orders.

The bone of contention between the political parties, the ECP, and the federal government is that of an increase in the number of union councils, which the centre notified earlier this month.

At the outset of the hearing, PTI’s lawyer Advocate Sardar Taimoor said the election commission had issued the schedule for local body polls for 50 UCs on June 2.

“The federal government increased the number of union councils to 101. Then, the election commission delayed the polls for fresh delimitation,” the lawyer said.

Later, the ECP issued a revised schedule for the local body polls on October 22 and in line with the timetable, the elections were supposed to take place on Dec 21.

The lawyer mentioned that as soon as the preparations were done for the polls, the federal government once again increase the number of UCs. He added that the Islamabad Metropolitan Corporation administrator moved the summary for the new UC 12 days back.

“How did the administrator get data that the population increased without a fresh census?” he wondered.

In response, Justice Tahir said the summary to increase the UCs was approved within 24 hours. However, he noted that the prosecution act has not been passed despite repeated notices from the court.

The lawyer then told the court that the government had increased the UCs from 101 to 125 and that once the schedule has been issued, the number cannot change.

The PTI lawyer said that the ECP has already spent millions of rupees and that the new legislation which changed the numbers of the UCs should be considered a “proposal” and not a law since the president has not yet approved it.