Delimitation dilemma: Commissioners told to hear complainants and decide

Petitioners sought court’s direct intervention in renewed delimitation.


Our Correspondent December 26, 2013
Petitioners sought court’s direct intervention in renewed delimitation. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

HYDERABAD: The Sindh High Court disposed of around 30 separate petitions on Thursday, which challenged delimitation of constituencies for the local government elections in the districts of Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas divisions.

The court, while avoiding its direct intervention to re-demarcate the constituencies on the basis of the petitioners’ contentions, directed the commissioners of the two divisions to hear the complainants.

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“Although the period that was fixed for hearing the matters by the commissioner-led appellate authority has expired, looking to the points raised by learned counsel for the petitioners, we find it appropriate to direct the commissioners to decide the matters afresh after hearing the parties,” read the order issued by the divisional bench of Justice Nisar Muhammad Shaikh and Justice Riazat Ali Sehar.

The provincial government had initially set November 9 as deadline for the hearing of complaints and recommendations by the one-person appellate authority of the divisional commissioner. However, subsequent to the postponement of the local government elections, the appellate authority also extended the last date of hearing the appeals till December 16.

Among the petitioners, 11 were from the districts of Hyderabad division while 19 others were from Mirpurkhas division. The 10 districts in the Hyderabad division comprise 49 town committees with 332 wards, 15 municipal committees with 309 wards, 10 district councils with 388 union councils and two municipal corporations with 120 union committees. Similarly, 29 town committees with 185 wards, nine municipal committees with 159 wards and four district councils with 219 union councils are in the four districts of Mirpurkhas division.

The petitioners, however, were not satisfied with the court’s order and their lawyers also argued to elicit a judgment involving the court’s direct intervention for renewed delimitation. “The petitioners came to the court because they were denied fair hearing by the bureaucratic appellate authority. Referring their cases again to the same government servants will not provide any relief,” argued advocate Ayaz Tunio.

The court ordered the commissioners of Hyderabad and Mirpurkhas divisions to hear all the 30 complainants on December 28 without binding them to change their earlier decisions with regard to these petitioners.

“The delimitation officers and tribunals failed to consider the material aspects of the complaints and recommendations filed by the petitioners. Their contentions were totally ignored,” said advocate Ayatullah Khwaja.

In defence of the provincial government, the additional advocate general Allah Bachayo Soomro sought dismissal of the petitions. He also contended that the cases could not be heard as the SHC’s principal seat in Karachi has already reserved judgment in the petitions of similar nature.

“These cases should either be dismissed or transferred to Karachi,” argued Soomro. The AAG went on to accuse Pakistan Muslim League-Functional and Muttahida Qaumi Movement for filing all these petitions. “They are fearful of their election defeat because of which they are using such tactics.”

Published in The Express Tribune, December 27th, 2013.

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