ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Tuesday directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to submit minutes of a meeting discussing the code of conduct for local government elections and asked the electoral body to come prepared for today’s (Wednesday) hearing.
The directions came in response to ECP Legal Additional Director General Muhammad Arshad’s claim that the ECP conducted a meeting and discussed the code of conduct before suspending the National Kissan Relief Package.
Moments later, Arshad retracted from his statement after the court ordered him to produce the minutes of the meeting within the hour.
Later, on his request, Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi and Justice Aamer Farooq directed the ECP official to produce the record on Wednesday (today) so the bench could assess what measures were taken before the package was suspended.
Read: National Kissan Relief package: IHC upholds ECP’s order
The court was hearing a petition filed by the federal government to challenge an ECP decision to suspend parts of a Rs341 billion relief package for farmers announced by Nawaz Sharif on September 15.
In the suspension notification, the ECP had said that the announcement came ahead of the scheduled local government (LG) elections in Punjab and Sindh and could amount to a violation of the code of conduct for the polls.
The government had also urged the court to suspend ECP’s order for the duration of the court case, but the request was turned down with the observation that it would create more complications.
In the petition, Additional Attorney General (AAG) Muhammad Waqar Rana, on behalf of the food secretary, has maintained before the court that ECP has drawn an irrational nexus between the package and the LG elections.
The package was not envisaged and announced overnight by the federal government on account of influencing voters as soon as polling dates became imminent, Attorney General Salman Aslam Butt argued.
Butt also said the ECP is not authorised or empowered to interfere in the business of government or to impede any policy decisions.
He also accused the body of issuing the LG election schedules and codes without consulting political parties.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 14th, 2015.