The Balochistan High Court on Friday declared delimitation of eight provincial electoral constituencies null and void in Quetta.
A divisional bench comprising Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan and Justice Abdullah Baloch ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to re-conduct delimitation in view of apprehensions and reservations of political parties.
The constituencies include PB-24, PB 25, PB 26, PB 27, PB 28, PB 29, PB 30 and PB 32 — all located in Quetta district. However, there was no complaint about PB 31 Quetta.
The number of constituencies in Quetta jumped from six to nine following the 2017 census. Almost all political parties had expressed reservations regarding the recent delimitation by ECP in Quetta district.
Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) leader Nasrullah Zarai, Hazrat Omar and Malik Yaseen had challenged the delimitation.
The court also ordered the inclusion of union council Sorod from PB 44 Awaran/Panjgoor into PB 43 Panjgoor.
The order was passed by the divisional bench of the BHC on Friday.
IHC asks ECP to settle delimitation issue of 10 districts on June 4
The Islamabad High Court (IHC), while hearing a petition regarding the delimitation of constituencies, on Friday asked the ECP to decide the disputes on June 4.
The court, disposing of identical petitions against the delimitation of constituencies, directed the petitioners to approach the ECP to redress their grievances on the said date.
IHC Justice Farooq this week decided on 110 petitions in which the petitioners had challenged the ECP’s notification regarding delimitation of their respective constituencies.
Justice Farooq on Friday set aside delimitations of district Abbottabad — which was challenged by outgoing deputy speaker of National Assembly Murtaza Javed Abbasi — Zhob, and Jhang. He upheld the ECP’s decision on Sialkot and Multan’s constituencies.
On Wednesday, IHC had declared the delimitation of Kharan, Ghotki, Kasur, Sheikhupura, Bahawalpur and Haripur void.
On Tuesday, IHC set aside the delimitation of constituencies in four districts – Jhelum, Jhang, Toba Tek Singh and Lower Dir.
The court had remanded all these cases back to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for rehearing.
IHC has so far set aside delimitation of 14 constituencies while almost an equal number of decisions of the ECP in this regard have been upheld by the court.
However, there are still 16 petitions pending before the IHC, which have been fixed for hearing on June 4.
In the written order, Justice Farooq observed that ECP “while hearing the matter, has to take into account that the population variation should not be more than 10 per cent, however, where such is the case, reasons have to be given under section 21 (3) & (4) of the Elections Act, 2017”.
According to the petitions, the delimitations were made in violation of Section 20 of the Elections Act, 2017 since the changes were not made ‘clock-wise’ and the population factor and the geographical compactness were not taken into account. It was contended that by virtue of change, a population difference of 25 per cent had resulted in some constituencies.
The ECP maintains that the delimitations that have been carried out in accordance with Section 20 of Elections Act. Any changes made were for the purpose of bringing the delimitation of two constituencies in line with the law.
The court noted that under the scheme of delimitation, after the committee prepares and approves its proposal, the matter is to be forwarded to the ECP which scrutinises the same and can suggest alterations. If it does so, the matter is referred back to the committee for reconsideration of the amendment suggested.
Once the commission is satisfied that the approved proposal for delimitation is convenient to the public then it publishes the same along with its report in the official gazette.
Representations are then invited from the voters registered in the constituencies for changing the approved proposals. In this regard, while considering the representations, the ECP has to see, whether any amendment or change can be made and if it does feel so, it can be ordered accordingly, the court order states.
According to Justice Farooq, ECP although followed the rules related to the delimitation of constituencies, while making the changes, “provided no reasons for altering the approved proposals”.
Further hearing on the 16 pending petitions against the delimitation of different districts has been adjourned till June 4.