The Islamabad High Court (IHC) declared the delimitations of constituencies in three districts of Punjab and one district of KPK null and void and directed Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to conduct fresh delimitation there in accordance with law. The delimitations will take place in Jhelum, Jhang, Lower Dir and Toba Tek Singh districts. Justice Aamer Farooq of IHC heard the case and announced the judgment in more than 40 identical petitions raising objections over delimitations.
The court directed the ECP to conduct delimitation in above districts keeping in view the ratio of their populations and disposed of the 40 identical petitions. It may be mentioned here that a total of 108 petitions were under process with the IHC regarding the objections over delimitation. The population proportion must be considered for the new delimitations, the court ordered.
According to the petitioners, political basis for delimitations had not been kept in mind and rules were not followed. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has faced severe criticism from political circles. A committee of the National Assembly (NA) had previously expressed its displeasure at the non-transparency of the exercise.
The verdict on the delimitation of Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Chakwal, Battagram, and Haripur districts has been reserved. The four High Courts are hearing appeals against the decisions of the ECP regarding the final delimitations of the constituencies in four provinces.
The court ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan to hear all stakeholders and carry out the delimitations process again. IHC will hear 37 petitions against delimitation of 20 constituencies tomorrow.
The court heard 40 of the 108 petitions filed against new delimitations of provincial and national assembly constituencies by the candidates belonging to the different political parties including PPP, PML-N, and PTI.
Justice Aamir Farooq has ruled that the rules that have been followed in the delimitation of other constituencies should be kept in view while delimiting constituencies in the districts in question as well. The court has subsequently remanded the decided cases to the ECP with a direction to the chief election commissioner (CEC) to decide on the matter after hearing all stakeholders, as is the law.
According to the Delimitation of Constituencies Act, 1974, the constituencies for elections to the National and Provincial Assemblies have to be redrawn after every census.
By Khalid Bhatti
ACE NEWS Election Cell