KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) granted a stay on Wednesday against the provincial election commission’s proposals for the creation of new constituencies in the province ahead of the local government (LG) elections.
Headed by SHC Chief Justice Faisal Arab, the division bench directed the chief election commissioner and the provincial election commissioner to file their comments by Monday.
The bench was hearing a petition filed by the Sindh government, through the local government secretary, challenging the provincial election commission’s proposals sent to the chief secretary. The commission told him to redraw over 90 union councils (UCs) in 15 districts after the Sindh High Court nullified the delimitation carried out by the government by including and excluding the urban and rural areas into UCs and wards.
These changes were proposed following the SHC’s decision regarding the creation of new UCs in Karachi, Naushero Feroz, Tando Allahyar and other districts. In the petition, the LG secretary had said that the election commission made these proposals in letters sent to the chief secretary on September 23 and September 29.
According to the LG secretary, the election commission has violated provisions of Section 10, Schedule-I, Part-C of the Sindh Local Government Act, whereby the population of a union council should be between 10,000 and 15,000. In case of the newly proposed union councils, Mithiani has a population of 22,199, Khair Shah has 18,267 people, Abdul Hasan 17,690, he said. Many other new UCs are proposed to be created with certain areas excluded or included in the limits of councils, which is a violation of Section 10(1) of the Act, he added.
The secretary felt that the proposal will disturb the election process and subsequently delay the LG elections scheduled to be held on October 30, November 19 and December 3 in different parts of Sindh. Due to the creation of new councils, alterations and the addition of areas in certain councils, the contesting candidates will lose their interest, thus many areas will have no candidates, he said, adding that the Sindh election commission had not obtained formal approval of the chief election commissioner.
Advocate Farooq Naek, the government’s counsel, argued that such an exercise, if not stopped, will disenfranchise the people of that particular area and deprive them from the right of electing their own LG representative. Besides, he argued, the new proposed constituencies are also in blatant disregard to the delimitation act since no territorial and population compactness as well as public convenience has been considered. The commission has not only violated the court judgment but has started fresh delimitation in constituencies, which are not even disputed, he said. It has carved out new constituencies without having permission of the court, he added.
The court was pleaded to declare the proposal unlawful and liable to be struck down. It was also requested to suspend the operation of the proposals until the final decision.
During Thursday’s proceedings, the two judges called comments from the ECP and Sindh ECP to file their comments by Monday. Till then the court stayed implementation on the PEC’s proposals.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 16th, 2015.