MQM-P moves court against ECP notification about delimitation

Updated 19 Jun 2020

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MQM-P leaders Amir Khan, Kunwar Naveed Jamil and Wasim Akhtar have challenged the ECP notification. — AFP/File
MQM-P leaders Amir Khan, Kunwar Naveed Jamil and Wasim Akhtar have challenged the ECP notification. — AFP/File

KARACHI: The Mutta­hida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan on Thursday approached the Sindh High Court against a notification of the Election Commission of Pakistan constituting committees for delimitation for local government jurisdictions in Sindh.

MQM-P leaders Amir Khan, Kunwar Naveed Jamil and Wasim Akhtar through their counsel challenged the ECP notification and submitted that delimitation exclusively came within the domain of the ECP, but the additional deputy commissioners were included in these committees while the final result of the national census had also not been officially publicised.

The petitioners submitted that on April 13, the provincial election commission addressed a letter to the district election commissioners of Sindh asking them to provide proposals for constituting delimitation committees comprising at least three officers for each district.

They maintained that various district election commissioners replied with names of members for the delimitation committees, adding that while the convener of a committee was a member of the provincial election commission, another member was an additional deputy commissioner of the district.

The petitioners further submitted that before the amendments made in the act of 2013 and the promulgation of the Election Act of 2017, the delimitation committees were composed of one member, additional district commissioner, but the SHC had ordered that the process of delimitation being carried out by such a committee was not transparent and also smacked of political influence and the judgement was upheld by the Supreme Court.

They argued that such a letter/notification was illegal and also submitted that they had recently learnt that in pursuance to this correspondence, the committees constituted had not only initiated the delimitation proceedings but had completed them.

They maintained that the letter dated April 13 and the notification issued on Jan 30, 2020 were illegal and unlawful since the same were ultra vires of the Election Act of 2013 and 2017 as well as the judgements of the superior and higher judiciary.

The petitioners further submitted that the letter was flawed as under Section 17(2) of the Election Act of 2017, the ECP was required to carry out the delimitation after every census officially published, adding that the final result of the census of 2017 was never published.

Impleading the ECP, provincial election commission of Sindh, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics and others as respondents, the petitioners asked the court to declare the April 13 letter and Jan 30 notification as well as the delimitation committees formed for local government jurisdictions in Sindh and for the cantonment boards as illegal.

They also asked the court to declare that in the absence of the official publication of a final census result of the census held in 2017, neither delimitation committees could be formed nor the process of delimitation could be carried out for the local government election.

The MQM leaders also submitted that in the light of the facts, circumstances and law, and especially due to the Covid-19 outbreak, no delimitation exercise should be carried out and the incumbent mayor and deputy mayor of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, municipal corporations, district chairman and vice chairman of a district municipal corporation, district council, town committees and others be granted a six-month extension and the Sindh local government be allowed to hold their present positions since the present system of local government and council would come to an end on Aug 30.

Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2020