KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Wednesday directed Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to conduct elections for the local government mayors and deputy mayors in the province through secret balloting.
SHC, bench headed by Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi, announced its verdict after hearing the identical petitions filed by Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) requesting the court to annul the fourth amendment in Sindh Local Government Bill 2013, which bounds the members to cast their votes by showing their hands instead of secret voting for electing mayors and deputy mayors.
Five identical petitions filed by the MQM and PML-F pleading the court to set aside the amendment made by Sindh government as according to them, the amendment is the violation of Article 266 of Pakistan’s constitution which allows secret polling. “Constitution states that all election, except those of prime minister and chief minister shall be held through secret balloting; therefore any procedure held for electing Local Government (LG) representatives by showing hands will be against the constitution,” they added. MQM and PML-F requested the court to declare the amendment made by the government as null and void.
Later, Pakistan People’s party_ the ruling party of Sindh which passed the amendment, courtesy their majority in Sindh Assembly_ Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Jamaat-e-Islami had also joined the proceedings by filing intervener petitions. “There is a rigging suspicion, if the elections for mayor and other local government representatives held through secret balloting. The rigging chances will be terminated through showing of hands,” they submitted.
The court after hearing the arguments from all sides, directed the election authorities to conduct the election through secret balloting.