LAHORE - A Lahore High Court bench on Monday directed the officials doing delimitation in Punjab to complete their job fearlessly and strictly in accordance with the law.
The bench headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial passed the directions while hearing a set of petitions filed by the PPP, PTI and other parties against non-party polls in the province under the new Punjab Local Government Law 2013.
Advancing arguments on behalf of the PTI, Advocate Bakhtiar Kasuri submitted that doing new delimitation was the responsibility of the Election Commission of Pakistan but the provincial government seized the powers by introducing new local government law. He said the polls could not be held in a transparent manner if the provincial government was not restrained from delimiting.
PPP counsel Sardar Latif Khan Khosa stated before the court that patwaris had been delegated judicial powers for delimitation. He said the PML-N-led Punjab government was committing pre-poll rigging by using its influence and usurping the powers of the ECP unconstitutionally. He argued that the Constitution had given the power of holding delimitation to the ECP.
The chief justice remarked that the courts had always protected public interests and would continue doing so. The courts would never allow anyone to act beyond the law, he added.
An assistant advocate general told the court that the delimitation process was in progress and would be completed soon.
The CJ issued directions to the officials concerned not to succumb to political influence and conduct delimitation strictly in accordance with the law. Later, the hearing was adjourned till October 24.
On the other side, the LHC also sought reply from the Punjab government and ECP on a petition challenging delimitation by the provincial government. Justice Nasir Saeed Sheikh passed these orders on the petition moved by Zafarul Allah Ranjha.
The petitioner’s lawyer alleged that the provincial government has decided to rig the upcoming local bodies elections. He pointed out that delimitation was a responsibility of the ECP; however, the provincial government was doing it illegally. He appealed to the court to declare the provincial government’s step illegal and direct the ECP to perform its responsibility.
After hearing initial arguments, the court issued notice to the ECP and Punjab government for reply within three weeks.