Wasim Sajjad

PESHAWAR: Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Tuesday declared the holding of village and neighborhood councils’ elections on non-party basis as unconstitutional.

Earlier on Monday, a three members PHC bench headed by Justice Rooh-ul-Amin had reserved its judgment in the case. The bench was hearing three petitions by the opposition leaders against changes to made Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Government Act 2013. The petitions were filed by opposition leader Akram Khan Durrani and other opposition leaders.

In its short order, the bench struck down the portion of section 27 (2) of the KP LG Act 2017 which were related to non-party VC&NC polls being ultra-vires Article 17 of the Constitution of Pakistan. The court said that elections should be held as per earlier issued schedule on party basis.

The bench also directed the ECP and KP government to issue necessary direction to the Returning Officers to accept nomination papers from candidates on party basis.

Jamaat Islami (JI) KP Chief Mustaq Ahmed Khan told TNN that they had approached the court pleading for the holding of VC&NC polls on party basis. Mr Khan said that PHC has accepted their plea. He said that holding of VC&NC polls on non-party basis was in violation of the Article 17 of the Constitution of Pakistan.

He blamed the government for planning to bring non-political figures into power and they in turn would be forced to join the ruling party.

JI’s provincial amir alleged that provincial government’s plan to hold polls on non-party basis was a scheme of horse-trading. “Government plan to hold part of LG polls on non-party basis was dangerous for democracy,” he said.

To a question about possible delay in polls due to court verdict, he said it was unlikely. “LG polls would be held on December 19 as per initial schedule,” he hoped.

He said that they will compel government to conduct elections at any cost. JI’s amir said that government has done nothing in the three-year and nothing to show to the public which was why they were playing delaying tactics.

Kushdil Khan, Awami National Party leader and vice-chair of the Pakistan Bar Council said that he had opposed the amendments in the provincial assembly. He said government bulldozed opposing voices in the assembly, forcing them to approach courts.

Separately, a statement issued by the ECP said that the decision has neither impacted the LG polls scheduled issued earlier nor it was in favor of delaying elections.

 

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