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KARACHI, March 25: The Sindh High Court on Monday issued notices to the Election Commission of Pakistan and other respondents in a petition of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement against the delimitation of 11 national and provincial assembly constituencies in Karachi.A division bench comprising Justices Maqbool Baqar and Muhammad Shafi Siddiqui also issued a notice to the Attorney General for Pakistan and put off the hearing to Wednesday (tomorrow).

The MQM filed the constitutional petition through its leader Dr Farooq Sattar, who impleaded the federal secretary of the statistics division, chief statistician, provincial census commissioner and the ECP as respondents.

The petitioner, represented by Barrister Farogh Naseem, asked the court to declare the ECP’s notification for delimitation of constituencies as illegal and suspend its operation.

The ECP issued a notification on March 22 announcing delimitation of three National Assembly constituencies (NA-239, NA-250 and NA-254) and eight Sindh Assembly constituencies (PS-89, 112, 113, 114, 115, 116, 118 and PS-124) in Karachi.

The MQM counsel submitted that the exercise of delimitation was in essence meant to create equality in the constituencies and it could not be undertaken without a fresh census.

He recalled that the Supreme Court in the Watan Party case had directed that delimitation in Karachi be undertaken strictly in accordance with the law. Later, he said, the ECP filed a review petition against the apex court’s order on delimitation of constituencies in Karachi taking the plea that the delimitation of constituencies could not be carried out in the absence of a fresh census. However, he said, the ECP’s review petition was dismissed on Feb 27.

Barrister Naseem submitted that the ECP announced on March 20 the schedule of the forthcoming general elections, whereas it issued a notification for delimitation on March 22 without following the legal process for delimitation of three NA and eight PA constituencies in Karachi.

He contended that after announcing the schedule for general elections, any notification for delimitation could not be issued.

The counsel stated that the apex court had passed the order on Oct 11 for carrying out exercise of delimitation and the ECP in compliance with the order should have completed the task after conducting a fresh census at that time.

He submitted that the electoral boundaries in the city should be delimitated after the forthcoming general elections.

Hearing adjourned on plea against CM Alavi

The same bench put off the hearing of a constitutional petition against the appointment of retired Justice Zahid Kurban Alavi as the caretaker chief minister of Sindh.

The petition was filed by Rana Fiazul Hasan, a civil rights campaigner and secretary-general of the United Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, against Justice Alavi’s appointment, submitting that he was a controversial person having close links with the PPP.

He said the caretaker chief minister had held several government offices and was not eligible for the slot under the constitution.

The bench adjourned the hearing to a date to be later announced by the court’s office.