close
Friday June 21, 2024

ECP unable to give Supreme Court election date

Chief Justice Umer Ata Bandial observes that in Sindh, the issue of delimitations was very sensitive

By News Desk & Sohail Khan
August 16, 2023
The Supreme Court of Pakistans building can be seen in this picture. — Radio Pakistan/File
The Supreme Court of Pakistan's building can be seen in this picture. — Radio Pakistan/File

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial on Tuesday directed the ECP to conduct delimitations transparently as it is an issue of public interest.

A two-member bench of the apex court comprising Chief Justice Umer Ata Bandial and Justice Sayyed Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi heard the petitions in the matter. Muhammad Shahryar Khan Mehar, Muhammad Ibrahim Jatoi and Imtiaz Ahmed Sheikh had filed the petition in the apex court against the delimitation process of Election Commission of Pakistan in the three provincial constituencies, PS-7 Shikarpur-1, PS-8 Shikarpur-II and PS-9 Shikarpur-III, Sindh.

Chief Justice Umer Ata Bandial observed that in the Sindh province, the issue of delimitations was very sensitive, adding that grievances regarding incorrect delimitations often came from the province. He said that wherever changes were made in the delimitation process, the votes of contesting candidates in that constituency could be affected. If the tapedar (revenue official) modifies the dotted circles during the delimitation [process], it would affect votes of candidates contesting from the constituencies, he said.

The Chief Justice asked DG(Law) ECP to settle all the matters before the polling. “This is a matter of public interest.” The ECP, Justice Bandial stressed, should conduct delimitations transparently. The Supreme Court provided an opportunity to the Election Commission of Pakistan to answer the objections made by the petitioners on the delimitation process in the three provincial constituencies in District Shikarpur (PS-7 Shikarpur-1, PS-8 Shikarpur-II and PS-9 Shikarpur-III).

“The ECP has defended its impugned action on the basis of Rule 10(4) of the Election Rules, 2017 (“Rules”),” says the court order adding by that provision, the limits of a Tapedar Circle should not be breached in the delimitation process. The court noted down in its order that in the present case, the contention of the petitioner is that the delimitation in the 2018 election without violating Tapedar Circle was closer to the limits now being demanded by the petitioner. The court further noted that in the present case, the plea being taken by the petitioners is that the difference in the number of voters in each of the three provincial constituencies in District Shikarpur is more pronounced and exceeds the variation limits set by Section 20(3) of the Elections Act, 2017 (“Act”).

The court noted that on a challenge made by the petitioners on the above grounds, the ECP passed an order under Section 22(1) of the Act holding that the information furnished by the petitioner was time-barred whereas there was no limitation prescribed for bringing information to the notice of the ECP under the said provision.

“Therefore, the ground taken in the order is invalid,” the court held in its order after giving an opportunity to the Election Commission of Pakistan to consider whether it would be willing to answer the petitioner’s objection through a fresh order or would like to contest the matter before it. Later, the court ordered to re-fix the case after the vacations. The Chief Justice asked DG (Law), ECP, when the general elections will be held. The officer gave a gesture of his ignorance. At this, the Chief Justice said it means that no date has been fixed so far for the elections.