The Sindh High Court (SHC) adjourned on Friday the hearing on petitions challenging the ongoing delimitation process in different districts, including Karachi, ahead of the local bodies’ elections after the Sindh advocate general (AG) and counsels for petitioners presented their arguments. The AG will continue his arguments in the next hearing as well.
Sindh AG Khalid Javed told the court that the delimitations were made according to the election rules, adding that the same criteria had been used for union councils and town committees. He alleged that the objections over delimitations were politically motivated as no one had raised objections regarding the increase in the number of municipal committees.
In his arguments, he said that the delimitations should be looked at as a whole, instead of being examined in pieces. Earlier, the court had clubbed together all petitions against the new delimitations.
The petitions had been filed by Syed Mureed Ali Shah, Syed Zafar Ali Shah, Sheraz Javed, Muhammad Hanif Qureshi, Syed Sharif Mirbehar and Atif Iqbal.
The petitioners had claimed that the district authorities had proposed the delimitations of the electoral constituencies in the districts, including Naushero Feroze, Tando Allahyar, Shaheed Benazirabad, Qambar-Shahdadkot and others.
During his arguments on Friday, Syed Mureed Ali Shah said that the local government department had issued a notification delegating powers of delimitation officers to deputy commissioners and asking them to accomplish the delimitation task by September 26. Shah had filed a petition against the appointments of commissioners as heads of election tribunals and deputy commissioners as delimitation officers.
Article 140-A of the Constitution mandated the establishment of a local government system and the Election Commission of Pakistan to hold the elections, he said, while Article 140-A(2) of the Constitution suggested that the ECP was duty-bound to carry out the exercise of delimitation. Shah contended that the appointment of delimitation officers violated the constitutional mandate.
The petitioners alleged that the district officers had proposed the alterations in the constituencies by including or excluding various union councils from one area to the other without following the criteria laid down for the purpose. More importantly, the required population strength was being ignored in some cases.
They have pleaded to the court to declare the process illegal and order the authorities to conduct local government elections on the basis of the previous population census conducted in 1998.
Following the arguments, a division bench, headed by Justice Mohammed Ali Mazhar, put off the hearing till December 23.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 22nd, 2013.
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