AJK government attempts to postpone LB polls

MUZAFFARABAD, Aug 13 (APP): Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) government on Saturday moved a constitutional amendment bill in the legislative Assembly to withdraw powers of election commission to hold local bodies and appoint separate local bodies’ election commission.

It may be recalled here that election commission of AJK had announced schedule for LB polls on Thursday, according to which nominations papers were to be filed from 15th of August till 22nd August followed by the polling which was scheduled next month (September 28th).

Sources in government said the election commission had announced the schedule without consulting them and political parties that were in the favor to defer the election process for few months due to many reasons, but the commission was compelled to announce schedule due to a AJK Supreme Court order which directed the commission to hold election within three months.

The cabinet on Friday decided to bring an amendment in the interim constitution act 1974 of Azad Jammu and Kashmir to withdraw the powers of election commission to hold LB polls and appoint separate local bodies’ election commission after which the government took opposition parties in confidence on the proposed bill.

The 15th constitutional amendment bill was moved in the house by Minister local government and rural development Khawaja Farooq Ahmad which was referred to select committee of the house unanimously.

In the draft bill amendment has been proposed in the article 50, 50 A and 50 B of interim constitution act 1974 withdrawing the powers of election commission to hold local bodies elections and enabling the government to appoint local bodies election commissioner.

Earlier, in 13th amendment in the constitution, the office of local bodies’ election commissioner was abolished and election commission was given the responsibility to hold LB polls besides legislative Assembly elections and Kashmir Council members.

Hue and cry was witnessed all over AJK by aspirant candidates and general public against the government’s move to delay the polls and protests were held against all political parties while bar council has announced to challenge the legislation in the superior courts.