KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Wednesday issued notices to the Election Commission of Pakistan, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics and others on a petition of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan against a letter of the provincial election commission for constituting committees for delimitation of local government jurisdictions in Sindh.

The petitioner submitted that that the exercise of delimitation could not be carried out unless the final results of the population census were officially published.

A two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar issued notices to the respondents as well as a deputy attorney general and additional advocate general for Aug 26.

SHC will again take up the matter on Aug 26

The MQM-P challenged the letter issued on April 14 by the provincial election commission to all the district election commissioners of Sindh for delimitation of union councils, union committees and wards in the town committee and municipal committee for conducting forthcoming local government elections.

The ECP had also issued a notification on Jan 30 for delimitation of wards in 42 cantonment boards across the country.

The bench observed that the petitioners mainly relied on Section 17 of the Elections Act, 2017 in which the commission shall delimit constituencies after every census officially published and in the same section powers had been given to the commission to delimit the territorial constituencies for elections to the National Assembly and each provincial assembly and to the local government in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.

The lawyer for the petitioner argued that no final census report had been published, but reliance had been made on the provisional census report that clearly said that the Council of Common Interests took note of the position and after a detailed discussion allowed the ministry of statistics to disseminate the provisional results and directed the PBS to expedite the compilation of the final results, he added.

The counsel further argued that unless the results were officially published the exercise of delimitation was totally unjustified and also in violation of law.

MQM-P leaders Amir Khan, Kanwar Naveed Jameel and Karachi Mayor Wasim Akhtar had filed the petition and submitted that the 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 publicized.

They maintained that the letter dated April 13 and the notification issued on Jan 30 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 and pleaded to declare them illegal.

Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2020