LHC suspends ECP’s notification for first phase of LG polls in Punjab

LHC bench sought a reply from both sides including ECP and adjourned further hearing till May 25.

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday suspended a notification issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan for the first phase of local bodies elections in Punjab.

A LHC division bench headed by Justice Shujaat Ali Khan was hearing the case. The court suspended the notification of ECP and issued notice to the respondent parties asking them to submit a reply on May 25. Tahir Sultan Chaudhary, a resident of Sialkot district, filed the petition through his counsel Advocate Sardar Akbar Dogar.

He argued that authorities concerned issued Punjab Local Government Ordinance 2021 and the Secretary Punjab Assembly issued a notification of extension. He submitted that the impugned notification was illegal and ultra vires of the constitution and liable to be struck down. The petitioner said that the ECP, after the notification, issued an election schedule for district councils, metropolitan corporations and village and neighborhood councils of 17 districts, including Sialkot, under the Ordinance.

The petitioner’s counsel argued that the notification was also illegal and against the express provisions of the Punjab Local Government Ordinance, and therefore, it is liable to be set aside.

He also contended that the original term of 90 days of the impugned ordinance had already lapsed since March 10, 2022 and the said ordinance was given extension of further 90 days through a notification which would lapse on June 9, 2022. The counsel argued that as per the constitutional mandate no further extension could be granted to the impugned notification.

He asked the court to set aside the impugned notification issued by the respondents on December 12, 2021 and its further extension for being illegal and ultra vires of the Constitution.

He also asked the court to declare the notification under which local bodies’ election schedule was issued as illegal, against the constitution as well as the Punjab Local Government Ordinance, 2021 besides suspending notification till disposal of the petition.

The bench sought a reply from both sides including ECP and adjourned further hearing till May 25.

Fida Hussnain is a correspondent covering judiciary, politics, business and health issues. He is also a feature writer and researcher with major work on freedom of press in Pakistan. He tweets @fidahassanain and can be reached at fidahassanain@gmail.com.