LHC Rawalpindi bench judge’s decision may delay LG polls scheduled for December
The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday declared null and void the delimitation done in the Rawalpindi Division for the upcoming local government elections.
Justice Mehmood Ahmed Bhatti of the (LHC Rawalpindi Bench restored the jurisdictions of all union councils in the division to their previous position.
The local government elections scheduled for December may be postponed after the verdict.
The short judgment was announced by the court after hearing 47 separate petitions on the issue. The detailed judgment will be released on October 6.
In its judgment the court affirmed the point of view of the petitioners that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) could not delimit union councils on its own, and this was only the constitutional and legal prerogative of the civic administration.
The petitions were filed by Muneer Kiyani, Shaukat Satti, Basharatullah Khan, Saeed Yusuf Khan, Asad Abbasi, and Shafqat Abbasi among others.
The ECP director-general and the district election commissioner had pleaded before the court that the commission had the right to carry out delimitations.
The decision has come at a time when preparations for local government elections in the division have gathered pace.
At present, 30 returning officers and 60 assistant returning officers have been appointed for the polls in the division.
Moreover, voter lists are scheduled to be released on October 7.
Meanwhile, the election commission has also refused to refund fees ranging from Rs5,000 to Rs8,000 that it collected from hundreds of thousands of candidates running for the local government elections in 2013 that were then postponed.
These candidates who wish to run for local government elections this year around will have to resubmit the required fee along with their nomination papers.
A candidate, Zaheer Ahmed Awan has challenged the decision with the chief election commissioner. Awan argued that those candidates who have submitted the fee last time they be given exemption from depositing the fee again.
On the other hand, Rawalpindi District Returning Officer Javed Khan Afridi said that the local government elections would be conducted in a transparent manner across the district and foolproof security arrangements have been made in this regard.
He said that arrangements would be completed 15 days before the polling date.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2015.