LHC stays local govt elections in Punjab

DailyTimes  |  Apr 22, 2022

Lahore High Court (LHC) Multan Bench on Thursday issued a stay order regarding June 9 local body elections (first phase) in Punjab and sought reply from Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and Secretary local government within a week in response to three separate petitions challenging the elections on the grounds that ECP announced LB elections without notifying rules under Local Government Ordinance 2021.

Justice Muhammad Shan Gul ordered in the judgment that arguments raised by the counsel for petitioners needed consideration and admitted the petition for hearing besides issuing notices to respondents with a direction to relist the case on Apr 28, 2022.

Petitions were filed by petitioners Muhammad Aslam Kamboh r/o Khanewal, Dilawar Khan r/o Vehari and Ghulam Abbas r/o Sahiwal through counsel advocate Rana Asif Saeed.

The counsel contended in the petition that elections had to be held under local government ordinance which has not yet been made an Act of parliament. He also challenged the extension in the ordinance. Under the Ordinance, voting had to be held through machines but no such system was in place, the counsel for petitioners argued.

The judge said in the order that counsel for petitioner argued that elections had to be held under the local government ordinance 2021, however, section 213 required the provincial government to notify rules for the purpose of conduct of local government elections. The lawyer said that respondent No 1, ECP, announced LB elections (first phase) in seventeen districts by way of a notification dated Apr 14, 2022 despite the fact that no rules were framed. The order said “Learned counsel for the petitioners submits that this amounts to putting the cart before the horse and unless rules are in place for conducting elections, no elections can be held.”

Justice Muhammad Shan Gul ordered to re-list the case on 28-4-2022 before any available bench. “Let Election Commission of Pakistan as also the Secretary local government, Province of Punjab, submit replies to this petition so as to reach this court within one week.” Advocate Rana Asif Saeed, when contacted, said, petitioners had challenged the ECP notification regarding LB elections with the request to set aside this order.

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