Only ECP has authority to delimit constituencies: SC
By Nasir Iqbal
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the authority to delimit the number of union councils and wards for local government elections was vested only in the Election Commission of Pakistan (E CP).
`The power to delimit the constituencies lies with the ECP,` said a threejudge bench headed by Justice Mian Saqib Nisar.
Thebenchhadtakenupa petition jointly filed by the ECP, De-Limitation Authority Rawalpindi Division and de-limitation officer/deputy election commissioner Rawalpindi district against the Oct 1 judgment of the Lahore High Court`s Rawalpindi bench setting aside the delimitation of union councils of Rawalpindi division carried out for the LG elections scheduled for Dec 3.
The high court had issued the order on identical chal-lenges to the delimitation exercise filed by 19 petitioners, including former Murree UC nazims Sajid Abbasi and Arshad Nawaz.
Former Murree nazim Haroon Abbasi and others had also challenged the delimitation of Jawa, Ghora Gali and other areas.
The petitioners represented by senior counsel Shafgat Abbasi argued that the delimitation was carried out on the basis of population of 12,000, but in many cases the present exercise had been done in the constituency which had a population of 19,000.
The Supreme Court observed that the high court had failed to address the question raised against the delimitation of constituencies and remanded the case back to the high court.
The apex court ordered the registrar of the high court to fix the case before the relevant bench in the third week of November so that it could decide the matter within two weeks evenif it had to constitute a special bench for the purpose.
In its appeal, the ECP argued that the high court judge had misinterpreted the provisions of the Punjab Local Government Act (PLGA) 2013. It said that section 8(2) of PLGA provided that after demarcation of the local bodies and determination of the union councils and wards it was the ECP which would delimit the UCs and wards.
The commission said the high court had failed to properly comprehend the scheme of the election prescribed by the law since the only power vested with the government under section 7 was to determine the number of union councils in a metropolitan corporation, a municipal corporation, a district council and wards of a municipal committee.
`Thus it is clear that the government can only determine the number of union councils, but delimitation is to be carried out by the ECP,` it said.