The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday suspended a notification for schedule of first phase of local government elections in the province. A division bench comprising Justice Shujaat Ali Khan and Justice Shahid Jamil Khan passed the orders while hearing a petition filed by Mehdi Hassan and others against Punjab Local Government Ordinance 2021. The bench also sought reply from Election Commission and other respondents till May 25, besides seeking assistance from advocate general Punjab. The petitioners’ counsel argued before the court that the Election Commission had issued a notification for holding local government elections in 17 districts of the province on June 9. He submitted that the notification was illegal as the Local government amendment ordinance would expire on June 10, whereas, the official results would be announced on June 14. He pleaded with the court to set aside the notification for being illegal. The court, after hearing initial arguments, suspended the notification and sought reply till May 25. Earlier, Lahore High Court (LHC) Multan Bench had on Thursday issued a stay order regarding June 9 local body elections (first phase) in Punjab and sought reply from Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and Secretary local government within a week in response to three separate petitions challenging the elections on the grounds that ECP announced LB elections without notifying rules under Local Government Ordinance 2021. Justice Muhammad Shan Gul had ordered in the judgment that arguments raised by the counsel for petitioners needed consideration and admitted the petition for hearing besides issuing notices to respondents with a direction to relist the case on Apr 28, 2022. Petitions were filed by petitioners Muhammad Aslam Kamboh r/o Khanewal, Dilawar Khan r/o Vehari and Ghulam Abbas r/o Sahiwal through counsel advocate Rana Asif Saeed. The counsel contended in the petition that elections had to be held under local government ordinance which has not yet been made an Act of parliament. He also challenged the extension in the ordinance. Under the Ordinance, voting had to be held through machines but no such system was in place, the counsel for petitioners argued. The judge had said in the order that counsel for petitioner argued that elections had to be held under the local government ordinance 2021, however, section 213 required the provincial government to notify rules for the purpose of conduct of local government elections. The lawyer said that respondent No 1, ECP, announced LB elections (first phase) in seventeen districts by way of a notification dated Apr 14, 2022 despite the fact that no rules were framed.