ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court Tuesday directed the Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to submit the notifications of local bodies elections’ schedules in the Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pukhtoonkhawa today.

The Court also granted time to Attorney General for Pakistan till today to explain why the Prime Minister should not be issued a contempt notice in delay of local government elections in the Cantonment areas.

A three-member bench headed Justice Jawwad S Khawaja was hearing the case of local government elections in the three provinces and the contempt petition of Raja Rubnawaz against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for delay in holding LB polls in the Cantonments.

Justice Jawwad said in the last five years the local bodies elections were not held in the provinces and the ECP also failed to perform its constitutional duty and the people were deprived their rights.

Acting Secretary Election Commission Sher Afgan informed that delimitation is being carried out in KP and the election schedule would be announced there on 6th April, while the polls would be held on 8th June. Similarly, the Punjab local government schedule would be announced on 16th November and the polls would be held on 16th January 2016. The LG elections schedule for Sindh would be announced on February 22, 2016 and the polls will be held on 23rd April 2016.

Akram Sheikh, counsel for ECP, informed the Court that the provinces have amended the laws for the delimitation and now the ECP would carry out the delimitation of the constituencies.

Justice Jawwad said, according to the Constitution, it was the responsibility of the ECP to hold elections and it carries no wait that the provinces would do legislation. Justice Jawwad remarked that the Article 218 of Constitution permits the ECP to hold the polls.

The counsel replied it was the major responsibility on the ECP to hold fair and free elections. The court noted that in the last five years the Election Commission had not fulfilled its responsibility.

Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmany inquired why progress was made after the decisions of the apex court. Justice Jawwad said that though there is new government in Balochistan, held the local bodies’ elections, while the incumbent governments of Punjab and Sindh were also in the last five years then why the polls could not be held in these two provinces?

The Advocate General Punjab informed that local bodies were dissolved in the province on 24th February 2010, while the Sindh additional advocate general told that local governments were dissolved in their province on 17th February 2010.

Justice Jawwad directed the secretary to file the notification of election schedule tomorrow in the court and they would again take up this case.

Attorney General Salman Butt informed the bench that the contempt application against Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was filed in October 2014, while the apex court had given extension to the government to implement the Supreme Court verdicts. Justice Jawwad stated that twice undertakings were submitted before the Court therefore the extension was granted.

The attorney general told that draft bill on Local Government system in Cantonment Boards was presented in the parliament on 5th December 2013, which was referred to the Standing Committee on Defence. He further apprised that the Prime Minister has sought opinion on the bill from the Law Division, adding the bill was still pending in the parliament. Justice Jawwad questioned was it an appropriate reply that the court should not issue notice to chief executive of the country. The AGP requested the court to give him some time for explanation. Justice Jawwad said: “We heard you and now we issue notice to PM with its reply you may give explanation.”

The attorney general said for holding local government elections in Cantonments the federal government wanted to issue ordinance. Upon that Justice Jawwad remarked: “If the constitutional amendment could be passed in a day then what are the difficulties in issuing ordinance on LG polls.”

On the court query, the AGP informed that the last elections in Cantonment areas were held in 1998. He said if the Court allows then the government would hold LG polls in Cantonment Boards according to 1924 law. Justice Jawwad remarked the Court realize that it was a sensitive issue but 17 years have lapsed and the LG elections were not held in Cantonments.

The hearing was adjourned till today.