SC restores Pindi delimitation by ECP

Islamabad - The Supreme Court Thursday dismissed high court’s judgement that voided delimitation of constituencies by Election Commission of Pakistan in Rawalpindi.
The Lahore High Court on October 2, 2015 had declared the delimitation of union councils in Rawalpindi district for upcoming local government polls by ECP null and void and restored the old delimitation of the constituencies, which was carried out by the Punjab government.
The ECP in pursuant to the orders of the Lahore High Court, Rawalpindi bench, issued a notification on October 9 to defer the LB elections process in five tehsils of Rawalpindi district including Murree, Kotli Sattian, Kahuta, Kallar Syedan and Rawalpindi.
Murree tehsil comprises union councils Dhar Jawa, Tarait, Murree City, Ghora Gali and Charhan, while Kotli Sattian tehsil consists of union councils Maloot Sattian, Bhattian, Karore, Letrar and Chajjana. Similarly, tehsil Kahuta has union councils Khalool and Beor, tehsil Kallar Syedan comprises union councils Sakoot and Blakhar and tehsil Rawalpindi consist of Khotha Kalan-I & II.
A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Thursday ruled: “The powers of delimitation of union councils absolutely vest with the ECP therefore with the consent of the parties the LHC judgment is set aside.”
The apex court noted as the LHC had not addressed the question that the ECP had not done the delimitation in accordance with the Punjab Local Government Act; therefore, it remanded the high court to decide the delimitation issue in two weeks time.
The registrar high court has been directed to fix this matter before a bench, even if they have to constitute a special bench, in the third week of November and communicate the order to chief justice of Lahore High Court.
The order might delay the LB elections in Rawalpindi, as the third phase of polls in the Punjab and Sindh are slated to be held on December 5.
The petitioners’ counsel told The Nation due to hearing in high court, the LB polls in Rawalpindi may be delayed till March.
Shafqat Abbassi admitted before the apex court bench that the ECP is competent to carry out delimitation under law.
The Supreme Court last year ruled: “Since the delimitation of constituencies for the local government polls is part of organizing and holding elections honestly, justly and fairly, which is the constitutional mandate of the ECP, therefore the power to carry out such delimitation should vest with the Election Commission of Pakistan.”
The federal, Sindh and Punjab governments were ordered to make appropriate amendments/legislation to empower the ECP to carry out delimitation of constituencies.
Munir Paracha, representing ECP, argued before the bench that the LHC order is unlawful as the high court had misread the chapter II & III of Punjab Local Government Act 2013.
The petitioners, who are former nazims of various union councils of Rawalpindi, had challenged the annexation of some parts of their union councils in others.
They had adopted that the ECP while issuing notifications of new delimitations did not consider local and geographical conditions. The new delimitation will create hardships for the residents and it has also violated the right of adult franchise of the local people.

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