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May 17, 2018

SHC moved against ECP’s notification of share of quota of NA, PA seats


May 17, 2018

The Sindh High Court on Wednesday issued notices to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and others on a petition against the election commission’s notification with regard to the share of quota for national and provincial assemblies’ seats in the country.

Petitioner Syed Mureed Ali Shah had submitted that the ECP had in January determined the quota and notified the share of national and provincial assemblies’ seats for Districts/Agencies, FATA and the Islamabad Capital Territory in light of the provisional results of the census conducted in 2017.

He submitted that the ECP has constituted five delimitation committees for the purpose of demarcation of seats for national and provincial assemblies and on March 5, the commission published its preliminary report as well as a list of constituencies of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh on the basis of false quota.

He said that a national assembly’s constituency should be formed between the population ratio of 687,489 to 840,265 as per Section 19 and 20 of the Elections Act, 2017, and any constituency formed below the population of 687,489 or in excess of 840,265 would amount to disparity, inequality, discrimination, dilution/debasement of votes and would disturb the uniformity of the population in the province.

He further said that each member of the NA will get equal funding, which will be a grave disparity and discrimination between members from Orakzai Agency of 254,356 population, South Waziristan Agency of 337,033 population, and the members from Kashmore of 1,089,169 population or Bannu of 1,167,892 population.

The petitioner submitted that the disparity has been created so that an assembly member with 254,356 population and a member with 1,167,892 population shall have the same voting rights in indirect elections which is also a sequel to gerrymandering and also against Article 25 of the Constitution.

According to Shah, the impugned notifications of ECP attempting to equate the delimitation process for each Province, Districts/Agencies, FATA and Islamabad Capital Territory is void due to the disparity in the population criteria.

He further submitted that the allocation of seats on the basis of impugned notifications is against the aim and the principle of “one man, one vote” and “equality of representation”. The petitioner stated that the share of seats in the national assembly and in the provincial assemblies in respect of each district worked out on the basis of the 2017 census (except FATA) was divided by the total number of general seats and the average population or quota per national assembly seat was obtained. Such irrational disparity is a serious violation of Articles 1(2)(c), 9, 17, 18, 19, 25, 51(2) and 218(3) of the Constitution of Pakistan, he said.

The petition further stated that the allocation of seats under the impugned notifications would certainly compromise the sanctity and integrity of the sacred institution of the ECP, and would certainly blemish its repute, and put its credibility at stake.

The court was requested to declare the impugned notifications of ECP with regard to determination of the quota/share of Districts/Agencies, FATA and ICT regarding national and provincial assemblies seats and the preliminary list of constituencies on the basis of false quota as being unlawful, being inconsistent with the Articles 1(2)(c), 9, 17, 18, 19, 25, 51(2) and 218(3) of the Constitution.

An SHC division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar after preliminary hearing of the petition issued notices to the deputy attorney general, ECP and others and called for their comments on May 17.

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