‘Absence of census doesn’t have to stop delimitation’

Supreme Court observes that the absence of fresh census may not hinder the ECP from redrawing constituencies.


Our Correspondent February 07, 2013
PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI:


The Supreme Court observed on Thursday that the absence of a fresh census may not hinder the Election Commission of Pakistan from doing its constitutional duty of re-drawing the electoral constituencies of Karachi.

“The fundamental right of one man-one vote should not be affected,” stated the four-member bench of the apex court while hearing a contempt petition in the Karachi suo motu implementation case at the SC Karachi registry.

The apex court had ordered the delimitation of electoral constituencies to end political polarisation, since it shared roots with the law and order situation in Karachi.

In November 2012, the regional secretary of the election commission had conceded that there was no legal bar on delimitation of the constituencies in the city.

On Thursday, the commission disputed its own officer’s statement. An official told the judges that the commission was determining the legality of the statement made by its secretary. Secondly, he continued, the petition filed by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement to seek a review of the apex court’s order on redrawing the constituencies had yet to be decided.

The bench noted that carrying out a census was the duty of the executive. If a census was not undertaken for 50 years and the court’s orders were not complied with, then the concept of “one man-one vote” would end.

“The fundamental right of one man-one vote should not be affected,” stressed Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja. “There should be one vote - be it in Karachi, Hangu or Turbat.”

The judges observed that since the election commission itself had pledged to protect the citizens’ right to franchise, filing a review petition should not be assumed as any restriction against the delimitation process.

“If the census is not undertaken, even the absence of a census may not hinder the commission from fulfilling its constitutional duty to ensure one man-one vote,” the bench said.

The judges made it clear that being an independent institution, the election commission was working in its constitutional domain while the court was working in its constitutional domain.

The bench is likely to take up the MQM review petition on Friday.

The bench directed IG Fayyaz Leghari to show on which grounds had the administrative boundaries of 20 out of 103 city police stations been changed.


Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th, 2013.

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