ISLAMABAD: Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja on Thursday asked the Punjab government to ensure immediate holding of local government elections in the province.

Presiding over a meeting, he told the chief secretary that the provincial government was bound to hold local government (LG) elections in the province immediately under the constitutional and legal provisions and the Supreme Court orders.

He said the provincial government should immediately provide local government rules, number of union councils and wards, number of reserved seats, maps and demarcation notification to the Election Commission of Pakistan so that the latter could discharge its constitutional duties.

The meeting was also attended by members and secretary of the ECP, Punjab chief secretary and other officials of the Punjab government and the ECP.

ECP secretary Omar Hameed Khan briefed the meeting that the provincial government had sent a copy of the Local Government Act, 2022, to the ECP for its input, on which the ECP had given its input and then the provincial government requested for Thursday’s meeting so that suggestions of the ECP be considered.

Speaking on the occasion, the special secretary of the ECP said that the Punjab government had dissolved the local government institutions in April, 2019, and after the order of the Supreme Court, they were restored, whose term also expired on Dec 31, 2021. In the meantime, he noted, the provincial government kept amending the laws from time to time, due to which it was not possible to hold elections.

Under Article 140-A of the Constitution and Section 219(4) of the Elections Act, the Election Commission of Pakistan is bound to hold elections within 120 days of the expiry of the term of the local government institutions.

The director general of law informed the ECP that the Supreme Court had issued clear orders for holding local government elections in Punjab and that not holding elections on time was not only in violation of the Constitution and law but also the order of the Supreme Court.

Published in Dawn, September 2nd, 2022

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