EC plea against Karachi delimitation rejected
KARACHI, Feb 27: The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected the plea of the Election Commission of Pakistan for deferring the process of delimitation of electoral constituencies in Karachi observing that the ECP was constitutionally empowered and bound to conduct the exercise.
A larger bench of the apex court headed by Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali was hearing the Karachi law and order sou motu implementation case with Justices Khilji Arif Hussain, Sarmad Jalal Osmany, Gulzar Ahmed and Athar Saeed as member judges.
The court heard and rejected the arguments of the ECP counsel, Muneer Paracha, who initially took the stance that there were legal hurdles in conducting the exercise under Article 51 of the Constitution and the Delimitation of Constituencies Act, 1974.
He contended that the delimitation process could not have been initiated due to the absence of a fresh census.When the bench made him read out the laws he referred to and told him that the laws did not prevent the ECP from undertaking the delimitation exercise, the ECP counsel took another plea that the delimitation of constituencies in Karachi was not possible as general elections were round the corner.
He further argued that the forthcoming election might be delayed if the process of delimitation of constituencies was initiated at this stage.
“No one is allowed to even say a word about delay in the forthcoming general elections,” Justice Khilji snapped and said that no one should even dream of a delay in the elections.
Justice Jamali recalled that earlier the ECP secretary had submitted in court that there were no hiccups in conducting the exercise of delimitation.
The ECP counsel stated that the delimitation of the constituencies was not possible at this stage as only 76 days were left in the scheduled general elections.“It is only lack of will on your part,” Justice Jamali observed and rejected the application of the ECP for deferment of the delimitation process.
The bench observed that it did not want any increase or decrease in the number of seats in the city.
Justice Jamali said that Article 51 of the Constitution only related to the allocation of seats in provincial assemblies and the national assembly and it had nothing to do with the delimitation.
He remarked that the apex court in its order had observed that the constituencies in Karachi should be delimited in a manner that they comprise mixed population.
Justice Jamali ruled that Section 9 of the Delimitation of Constituencies Act, 1974 empowered the ECP to delimit the constituencies for national and provincial assemblies having regard to the distribution of population geographically and keeping in view the existing boundaries of administrative units.
The ECP counsel submitted that the election commission held a series of meetings with all stakeholders to initiate the process of delimitation, but the proposals made in the meeting were contrary to the apex court’s order.
The bench told him that the ECP was constitutionally empowered to modify, alter and redraw the boundaries of constituencies to ensure fair and free elections in the country.
“ECP needs no proposals to discharge its constitutional duty,” Justice Osmany remarked.
IGP tenders unconditional apology
Later, the bench discharged the show-cause notice issued to IGP Fayyaz Ahmed Leghari after he submitted a report containing names of 800 police officials who were named in FIRs and facing trial in different courts.
The list of the police officers also included the names of SSPs Pir Farid Jan Sirhandi and Farrukh Bashir.
The bench had issued the show-cause notice to the provincial police chief when it learnt that the names of the two SSPs facing criminal charges were not included in the earlier list.
The IGP tendered an unconditional apology to the court stating that the names of the two SSPs were not withheld deliberately.
Summary to amend traffic laws rejected
Later, the provincial transport secretary appeared on a court notice to say that a summary to amend the traffic laws for enhancing penalties imposed on traffic offenders was sent to the law department on Feb 22.
The bench directed him to call the summary from the law department and submit the same in court in half an hour to ascertain the veracity of his statement.The bench expressed annoyance and warned the transport secretary to be careful in future while making statements before the court when learnt that the summary was received on Feb 27.
The perusal of the summary further irritated the bench as it said that the fine of Rs100 was increased to Rs200, Rs50 to 150, and Rs200 to Rs400.
The court observed that the maximum fine should be up to Rs5,000.
The bench rejected the summary and directed the transport secretary to float a fresh and updated summary within three days.
The bench is hearing the case on a day-to-day basis this week.