‘The govt is not obligated to conduct a decennial census’

Published: April 4, 2013

PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: The census commissioner on Wednesday opposed petitions filed by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Pakistan People’s Party against delimitation of few electoral constituencies in Karachi, arguing that the pleas did not qualify for a hearing since they lacked law and facts.

“Population and housing census traditionally is a decennial activity all over the world. Under the prevailing law, the government is not obliged to conduct population and housing census in the country every ten years,” said Liaquat Ali Chattha, the assistant census commissioner at the ministry of the Economic Affairs and Statistics.

The Section 31 of the General Statistics (Re-organised) Act provides cover to conduct census, he said. He added that the federal government may from time to time declare that a census of population and housing conditions of Pakistan shall be taken by the Bureau.

Therefore, the assistant commissioner opposed the petitions and pleaded to the court to dismiss the same.

The controversy started as the commission on March 22 issued a notification regarding delimitation of three national assembly and eight provincial constituencies in Karachi. Both PPP and MQM opposed the decision, eventually going to court to have the order cancelled.

Concluding his arguments, MQM’s lawyer Barrister Farogh Naseem insisted that the electoral boundaries had been redrawn without a fresh census in Karachi. Secondly, the process was set in motion after the general elections’ schedule had been announced.

He pleaded to the court to set aside the ECP’s notification regarding delimitation.

PPP’s objection to NA-230 delimitation

PPP leader Qadir Patel had also challenged delimitation of NA-230, saying the ECP had included three defunct union councils of Baldia Town and two of Keamari Town in the constituency without providing any justification.

On Wednesday, the deputy attorney general Munirur Rehman requested for time to file the commission’s comments to the objections raised by the petitioner.

Headed by Justice Maqbool Baqar, a division bench, adjourned the hearing till April 8.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 4th, 2013.

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