LG elections in Punjab, Sindh ‘impossible’ in Jan, ECP to SC

* Commission writes to apex court for fresh directions on holding elections in the wake of decisions by high courts on delimitations in two provinces
LG elections in Punjab, Sindh ‘impossible’ in Jan, ECP to SC
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ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday told the Supreme Court (SC) that holding local government (LG) elections in Sindh on January 18 and in Punjab on January 30 appears to be impossible due to delay in printing of ballot papers.
The commission also sought guidance from the SC regarding holding LG elections after Sindh and Lahore high courts decided to set aside delimitation of wards in the two provinces.
Akram Sheikh moved an application in the court on behalf of the ECP under order XXXIII rule 6 of the SC Rules 1980, requesting the court to give fresh directions to the commission in the wake of high courts’ rulings.
Narrating the outcome of high courts judgements, the lawyer told the SC that the delimitation of wards in Sinh and Punjab stands set aside.
“The penal system envisaged under sub section (12) of section 18 of the Sindh Local Government Act 2013 in the Union Councils/Committees of the province and the provisions of sub-section (14) of said section which debar independent candidates to contest elections if they fail to form a penal has been declared to be violative of the constitution and the law,” Sheikh said in the petition.
He added that provisions of giving powers to the delimitation officer to declare a rural area to be an urban area and change in the figure of population in Union Committees of Metropolitan Corporation increasing the variation in their population from 10,000 to 50,000 instead of 40,000 to 50,000 had been declared ultra vires of the constitution and law.
In view of both high courts’ judgements, the lawyer said that the Punjab Local Government Act 2013 and Sindh Government Act 2013 had to be amended by the respective provinces and fresh delimitation had to be carried out in light of the courts’ rulings.
He said that due to the request by Printing Corporation of Pakistan (PCP) Islamabad and Pakistan Security Printing Corporation (PSPC) Karachi to extend the time for printing ballot papers, polls in the Sindh on January 18 and in Punjab on January 30 appeared to be impossible.
The ECP’s lawyer also pointed out that printing of ballot papers could only be started after the issuance of list of contesting candidates.
“In short period of three days, it is impossible to print 300 million ballot papers and distribute them among 228 retuning officers across the province of Sindh before the day of poll,” he added.
He also stated that a similar situation was being faced in Punjab where 300 million ballot papers are required to be printed “which is impossible within a period of 14 days from the publication of list of contesting candidates on January 13, 2014”.
He said that the representative of PSPC had stated that only one assignment could be undertaken at time and that PSPC would first print 30 millions ballots papers for Sindh for which they needed at least 15 days.

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