KARACHI: Delimitation of certain constituencies made by the provincial government for the upcoming local government elections were on Friday cancelled by the Sindh High Court that also ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan to revise them within five days.

Chief Justice Faisal Arab, who headed a two-judge bench, gave a short order in his chamber on over 40 different petitions challenging the delimitation of constituencies across the province, including Karachi, Hyderabad, Tando Allahyar and Mirpurkhas.

The detailed judgement would be announced later on a date to be set by the court’s office.

The delimitations were challenged mainly by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional. The petitioner also included two lawyers — Advocates Syed Mureed Ali Shah and Zulfiqar Ali Domki.

MQM leader Dr Farooq Sattar had challenged the delimitation of constituencies in Karachi and Mirpurkhas, while MQM leader Syed Sardar Ahmed filed four petitions, challenging delimitation of Tando Adam, Tando Jam, Nawabshah, Hyderabad and Qasimabad made by the provincial government.

The petitioners said that new delimitations of the constituencies were illegal as the provincial government had shown favouritism in these limitations.

Besides, they argued, these delimitations were in violation of the Supreme Court order.

The delimitation was the responsibility of the ECP, the petitioner said, adding that the provincial government officials completed the process that was against the law.

The petitioners belonging to the MQM also alleged that the provincial government had already planned to rig the LG elections as they ignored the population and rejected their objections to the move.

Advocate Domki argued that certain provisions in the Sindh Local Government Act 2013 had taken away the election commissions’ power to conduct delimitation of the constituencies.

He recalled that the SHC had earlier nullified a similar process of redrawing constituencies carried out by the provincial government in Dec 2013.

Later, the counsel said, the provincial government challenged the SHC judgement in the Supreme Court that also upheld the high court’s verdict.

He further stated that the apex court had also ordered the government to pass legislation that empowers the election commission to carry out such exercises.

The petitioners requested the court to declare the delimitation of these constituencies illegal and restrain relevant authorities to conduct the LG elections in these constituencies.

Later, MQM’s counsel Farogh Naseem told the media persons that the SHC had annulled the delimitations made by the Sindh government and reversed urban and rural areas to their original positions.

He said that the court observed that the ECP was the proper authority to make delimitations instead of the provincial government.

The court directed ECP to arrange all processes of upcoming local government elections.

Published in Dawn, September 19th, 2015

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