ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court of Pakistan Tuesday expressed concerns over delimitation of constituencies for Phase-II of local government elections in Sindh.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial conducted hearing of the MQM-P petition against the delimitation of constituencies for Phase-II of Local Government Elections in Sindh. During the hearing, the Chief Justice said that under Sindh Local Governments Act, 2015, the provincial government is empowered to conduct delimitations. He added that in its implementation, there seems to be some flaws. He questioned that whether the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), ignoring the flaws, did delimitation according to its own system.

Justice Bandial noted that in some union councils, the population difference is more than 100 percent. He added that the court can only point out flaws in the law, but cannot change the law. Justice Mansoor observed that according to one section of the Act power of delimitation of constituencies is given to the ECP, while the other section of the same Act gives this power to the provincial government.

The Chief Justice inquired that if the number of union councils could be increased in delimitation. Farogh Naseem replied that the number of union councils be reduced or increased. Justice Mansoor said that the provincial government had made the structure of delimitation for the Local Bodies. He questioned that whether Election Commission could change the structure. The Chief Justice remarked that the ECP could do only those things to which it is authorised. He observed that in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Governments Act procedure is given what will be the population of a union council. Farogh Naseem said that in Sindh Local Govt Act, there is no clear procedure for determination of population in a union council. He said that for Orangi Town’s 7 lac population, 7 votes are for metropolitan Mayor, while Mominabad’s 4 lac people there are 9 votes for Mayor.

Former attorney general Khalid Javed, representing unopposed elected candidates in Phase-II, argued that the delimitation cannot be done as per rules of mathematics. He said that if MQM-P plea is accepted then delimitations for the provincial and national seats across the country will be affected. He said that the delimitations in Sindh were carried out as per the Act 2015.

The Chief Justice told Khalid Javed that the provincial and the national delimitations have also been challenged before the apex court. Khalid Javed contended that this case is not confined to Mominabad or Karachi, but it could also affect the delimitations across the country. He said that in many areas of Karachi eight to ten persons live in a 110 sq metre house, while in some other areas three persons live in a 1000 sq metre house.

The counsel argued that the Election Commission while carrying out delimitation did not keep in mind only the population, but other factors like basic facilities in the constituency. He said that the largest province of the country has a lesser population and Karachi needs the Local Govts urgently.

Justice Ayesha Malik asked Javed to clarify on what basis the delimitation was done by the provincial govt for Phase-II of LGs polls. She said that had the delimitation carried out transparently then there would have been no issue of delimitations.

Khalid Javed told the court that SHC in 2016 had given guidelines for delimitations, which were followed. He said the MQM-P through Farogh Naseem had challenged Section 10(1) of Sindh Local Governments Act 2015 before the Phase-I of the local bodies in the province, but the SHC dismissed their petition as the Act was challenged just before the LGs polls.

Additional Advocate General Sindh adopted the arguments of Khalid Javed, and told the bench he would submit documents regarding the instant matter. Later, the bench adjourned the hearing till Wednesday (today) for further hearing.

 

Phase-II of local government elections