Monday April 15, 2024

MPAs petition: PHC issues notice to ECP over delimitation of constituencies

By Akhtar Amin
March 27, 2019

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Tuesday issued a notice to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in a writ petition filed by the members provincial assembly (MPAs) from Mardan district against the ECP decision amending their constituencies after the 2018 general elections.

A division bench comprising Justice Ikramullah Khan and Justice Musarrat Hilali put on notice the ECP, directing it to submit reply before next hearing of the case. The petition was filed by Senior Minister for Sports and Culture Muhammad Atif Khan from PK-50, Muhammad Abdul Salam from PK-53, Muhammad Zahir Shah from PK-52, Iftikhar Ali from PK-54 and Tufail Anjum from PK-49 against the ECP decision passed on January 25, 2019, for changes in the constituencies.

Babar Khan Yousafzai, counsel for the petitioners, stated during the hearing that after preliminary report of delimitation of the constituencies in March 2018, people from different political parties challenged the delimitation of the ECP, claiming that the delimitation of the constituencies in Mardan district was carried out in violation of Election Act, 2017 and Elections Rules 2017, but the applications were dismissed. He said the people from different constituencies then appealed to the Peshawar High Court after the ECP dismissed their applications against delimitation of the constituencies. The counsel said that on July 10, 2019, the PHC sent back the petition to the ECP for decision afresh. The political parties’ workers pointed out in the petition that during the delimitation in the constituencies of PK-48, PK-49, PK-51, PK-52, PK-53, and PK-54, authorities ignored boundaries, which was a key condition for the delimitation and the Election Act also gives importance to this. They requested the court to order the ECP to restore the old position of the constituencies in Mardan for the 2018 general elections.

However, the lawyer argued that the general election was conducted on the 2018 delimitation and on January 25, 2019, the ECP without hearing the petitioners (MPAs) or giving them notice made changes in the constituencies, from which they had been elected in the 2018 general elections. He said the lawmakers from Mardan were aggrieved over the order of the ECP for amendments in the constituencies, without giving right of audience to them to protect the rights of the people of their constituencies.

In the grounds to the petition, it was stated that the ECP, by issuing the order, had exceeded beyond the scope of Section-20 of the Election Act, 2017. “The ECP could have considered the distribution of the population in the geographical compact area, physical features, the existence of boundaries of administrative units and old constituencies, but the same features had never been discussed in the impugned order,” stated the petition.

It said that during the course of proceedings before the ECP, the then applicants had mutually come to an agreement for amending the constituencies in their proposed manner, but the said agreement was also not taken into consideration by the Election Commission while rendering the decision.

It was also explained that in view of the petitioners after the commencement of the general elections, the applications pertaining to the delimitation of the constituencies were infructuous as the ECP could not change the constituencies for the next election at this stage as before every general election, an Election Act has been promulgated by the legislatures. The lawmakers from Mardan district requested the court to set aside the impugned notification of the ECP for making changes in their constituencies even after the general elections