Friday, December 23, 2022

IHC strikes down ECP's order of Islamabad local body polls

ECP rejected government's notification to increase union councils in Islamabad

The outside view of the Islamabad High Court. — IHC website/File
The outside view of the Islamabad High Court. — IHC website/File

  • Islamabad High Court asks ECP to revisit decision.
  • Govt has increased the UCs from 101 to 125.
  • ECP rejected govt's notification to increase UCs in capital.

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Friday nullified the Election Commission of Pakistan's (ECP) order pertaining to the local body polls in the federal capital.

The election commission had earlier rejected the government's notification to increase the union councils in the federal capital. In response, the centre challenged the order in court.

"The election commission should revisit its decision and hear the government and other parties on December 27. For correcting the voter lists, the affected parties should also be heard on December 28," IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq said.

Just as the local body polls were about to take place on December 31, the federal government had earlier this week approved a summary to increase the number of union councils of the federal capital from existing 101 to 125.

The summary stated that the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad administrator — deputy commissioner — has said that the present number of union councils is 101 as fixed based on 2017 census.

However, the population of Islamabad increased to 205 million in the last five years and, therefore, it is appropriate that the number of union councils may be enhanced to 125.

It stated that Section 4 (1) and 6 (1) of the Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government Act, 2015 authorises the federal government to determine the number of union councils within Islamabad through notification published in the official gazette.

But after that, the election commission issued an order to continue the process of holding local government elections in the federal capital, saying that the union councils were increased in violation of the related law.

In its two-page order, the order said this measure was taken without the concurrence of the election commission, which was required under Section 4 (4) of the Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government Act 2015

The ECP said in its order that now, the commission in the exercise of its powers under Article 140-A(2), Article 218(3), Article 219(d), and Article 220 of the Constitution read with enabling provisions of law, hereby, decided to continue the election process on the stipulated date.

Following the ECP's order, the government passed the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Local Government (Amendment) Bill, 2022 a day earlier and today, it also had it passed in the Senate.