After the submission of almost 6,000 nomination papers by candidates for the upcoming local body elections, the Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench on Wednesday voided the new delimitation of union councils (UCs) by the district administration after it was challenged by two local politicians.
LHC Justice Shehzada Mazhar cancelled the decision of the district administration while setting aside two petitions filed by former Rawal Town Nazim Sheikh Rashid Shafique and former councilor Sardar Raza Aslam.
The district administration had increased the number of UCs in Rawal Town from 46 to 55 and in Potohar Town from 35 to 38, earning the ire of several political parties which claimed the step would favour the ruling party.
Abdul Raziq, counsel for Aslam, argued before the court that the district administration increased the number of union councils in violation of the Local Government Act 2013. He added that under the law, the district administration should have floated an advertisement so that all the stakeholders could submit objections on the new delimitation. But the commissioner and the district coordination officer took the step after pressure from local leaders of the ruling party in Punjab.
Last week, a petition filed by Chaudhry Noor Khan, a local lawyer, urged the court to direct the government to formulate a uniform policy to ensure an equal number of voters in each union council. Khan said the number of voters in the new UCs is from 7,000 to 10,000 while the number of voters in old UCs is 14,000 to 20,000. “The delimitation is an attempt by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz to please its candidates who lost the general elections,” he said.
After the completion of arguments from both parties, the court declared the district administration’s decision null and void and restored the old union council boundaries.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 14th, 2013.