ECP appeals against the Lahore High Court verdict against redrawing union councils
The top polling body has asked the apex court to immediately take up its appeal against the Lahore High Court decision to cancel new delimitations in Rawalpindi, fearing the verdict might delay local government elections in the country.
On October 1, the LHC’s Rawalpindi bench had struck down all new delimitations carried out in the division for the upcoming LG polls and restored the jurisdictions of all union councils to their previous positions. The court ruled the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) could not redraw UCs on its own, as this was the prerogative of the civic administration.
The ECP appealed against the verdict last Monday.
On Saturday, the commission filed another application for the early hearing of the case in the coming week. It is expected the matter will be listed.
Legal experts are, however, divided on the implications of the LHC verdict.
One of the ECP’s counsels told The Express Tribune that if the judgment would be “in field”, then it would delay the LG polls in the whole country.
The high court, he said, declared the ECP had no powers to draw new UCs as it was an executive affair. “On the basis of this observation, the process of LG polls will halt in the whole country,” he said.
The counsel is, however, hopeful the SC will suspend the LHC’s order on the first day of hearing.
Another ECP official disagreed with this interpretation, saying the verdict’s implications would not be applicable in other areas. The commission has already stopped the process of LG polls in different UCs of Rawalpindi Division.
However, he added, on the basis of the LHC judgment, people from other areas might move the high court against the delimitations done by the ECP.
Senior ECP officers have confided with The Express Tribune that the poll supervisory body is increasingly getting upset over the continuous interference of the judiciary in its affairs. The commission has become increasingly desperate over the superior courts’ rulings against its decisions in the past three years.
“The ECP consists of five retired judges of superior courts but its decisions are overruled by one high court judge, whose experience is less than any ECP member,” one officer complained. “The commission feels that only the Supreme Court should have the appellant authority against the ECP’s decisions.”
Legal experts recommend the Supreme Court should give guidelines to the higher courts to review ECP’s decisions.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 18th, 2015.