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High court order to delay LG polls suspended

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday suspended the Peshawar High Court’s (PHC) order to postpone the second phase of local government (LG) elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

A two-member bench of the IHC headed by Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan announced the verdict while hearing a petition filed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) challenging the PHC order.

The PHC’s Abbottabad bench had, in its order on Feb 1, postponed the elections, due to be held on March 27, on the grounds that five districts of the province were expected to remain under snow in the last week of March.

The PHC bench had issued the directions while hearing petitions contending that various districts in the province would be shut by heavy snow in March, following which the voters would struggle to reach polling stations under severe cold and through snow-covered roads. 

The ECP had subsequently approached the Supreme Court against the PHC’s decision.

In the hearing today, the ECP counsel contended before the apex court that the PHC bench deferred the polls without listening to the ECP’s arguments. 

He said the commission got the notice for the Feb 1 court hearing on Feb 2 and “the PHC bench had already conducted the hearing and announced its verdict by then.”

Justice Ahsan remarked that the ECP was supposed to review the report from the meteorological department and not the court. “Why was the court so quick to decide?” the senior judge asked.

After suspending the PHC order, the court adjourned the hearing till Feb 14.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Met office, in its letters to the ECP, had predicted snowfall and heavy rains in mountainous areas of the province in the month of March and urged the ECP to review its schedule for the polls.

Initially, the second phase of LG polls in 18 districts of KP was to be held in the last week of January, but it was rescheduled by the ECP through a Dec 30, 2021 order on applications filed by local MNAs and MPAs. 

On Jan 20 this year, the ECP had issued a notification announcing the holding of the second phase of LG elections in KP on March 27. The first phase of elections was held in 17 districts on Dec 19. –Dawn

 

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