PESHAWAR: Peshawar High Court (PHC) divisional bench comprised of Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim and Justice Syed Arshad Ali ordered Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to submit reply in writ against suspension of Local Government (LG) council in wake of by-polls for National Assembly and general election for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab Assembly, on Tuesday.
The writ petition filed Nowshera tehsil Mayor Ishaq Khattak while Nauman Kakakhel and Malik Shahbaz Advocates argue the case before PHC while ECP along with Provincial Election Commissioner Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were made respondents in the case.
The petition stated Article 140A (2) of the Constitution cast a duty upon the Election Commission to hold elections of local bodies in terms of Art.140A (1) read Election Act 2017 and Rules made there under, while the Election process has been cited in the Local Councils (Conduct of Election) Rules 2021 which has been made under section 112 of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Government Act 2013, however, no political system is considered complete and democratic if it does not have a system of Local Government.
Election Commission of Pakistan under Article 218(3) of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973 has constitutional duty to organize and conduct elections but without paralyzing the rights of the people to representation at local levels. That it has not been a strong and a cogent reason that free and fair election of a provincial assembly could not be held without suspending Local Governments however, by this logic, the Federal Government should also be suspended, as it too can use the powers and resources at its disposal to influence the outcome of the Provincial Assembly’s elections if free and fair Local Government Elections can be held in the presence of provincial governments, why is it not possible the other way around, the petition argued.
The writ added that there no justification for disrupting and paralyzing the elected institutions without clear and specific legal grounds, while the suspension of local governments would have a disruptive effect on the functioning of elected councils, development planning, and the delivery of services while on the other hand people would extremely suffering by the suspension, stopped Local Government Functionaries from signing and attesting necessary documents. That suspension of local governments at this time of the year when the budget is prepared and annual planning for the next year taking place is hugely disruptive, and will affect the functioning of local governments not only during the current and next financial years.
Local bodies were established under Article 140-A of the Constitution, so their suspension amounted to suspension of the constitutional provision. It is beyond the mind that in any democracy around the world, elected institutions at one tier were suspended to ensure free and fair elections for the other, the petition added.
The petitioner requested that on acceptance of this Writ Petition the Impugned Notification dated 03-02-2023 issued by the respondents may kindly be set aside. The petitioner may be allowed to put forward any other argument/document at the time of hearing of this writ petition.
The divisional of PHC comprising of Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim and Justice Syed Arshad Ali ordered ECP’s lawyer Kamran Sadeeq to submit reply in this regard while adjourned further hearing.