KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday restrained the Election Commission of Pakistan from printing ballot papers of the 11 recently delimited constituencies of the National Assembly and the Sindh Assembly in Karachi till further orders.
A division bench headed by Justice Maqbool Baqar gave this direction while hearing an application of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement against the printing process of electoral lists for the redrawn constituencies.
The bench directed the ECP not to commence printing process of ballot papers of the 11 delimited constituencies till April 21.
The application was filed by MQM leader Advocate Farough Naseem, who asked the court to restrain the ECP from getting the voters’ lists of the redrawn constituencies, as any change in the electoral lists was void and illegal after the start of the election process.
The applicant submitted that the MQM had already challenged the redrawing of the constituencies in the SHC that reserved the judgement on its petition after hearing the final arguments from the two sides.
He said he watched a report on DawnNews to the effect that the ECP sent the voters’ list of Karachi for printing according to the delimitation notification.
The counsel stated that the ECP had already announced on March 17 the final electoral list, therefore, any change in it would be illegal. He stated that any step towards printing of electoral lists would influence the delimitation case.
The ECP had issued a notification on March 22, announcing delimitation of three National Assembly constituencies (NA-239, 250 and 254) and eight Sindh Assembly constituencies (PS-89, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 118 and 124) in Karachi.
On Monday, ECP law officer Abdullah Hanjrah had informed the court that the impugned voters’ list had been sent to Islamabad for printing. However, he said, he did know if the printing of electoral list had started.
Contempt notice to ECP The same bench put the chief election commissioner and four other members of the Election Commission of Pakistan in a contempt of court application for not complying with the court order regarding the delimitation of the National Assembly and the Sindh Assembly constituencies in Naushahro Feroze.
Applicant Syed Murad Ali Shah submitted in the application that the ECP had submitted before the court that it would form a committee for delimitation of Naushahro Feroze’s five provincial assembly constituencies and two National Assembly constituencies.
He submitted that the ECP had failed to issue a notification of delimitation of the constituencies of Naushahro Feroze despite clear court orders.
The applicant prayed to the court to initiate contempt of court proceedings against the chief election commissioner and other respondents. He said the committee was to submit the proposals before the ECP within seven days and subsequently issue a notification in this regard.
The applicant pointed out that earlier on March 3 the court had directed the ECP to accomplish such an exercise and notify delimitation in the official gazette before announcing schedule for general elections.
The court issued notices to the chief election commissioner and other four members of the ECP and adjourned the matter to April 22.