ECP invokes Article 220 to seek help in delimitation
By Iftikhar A. Khan
ISLAMABAD: In a rare exercise of its powers, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has invoked Article 220 of the Constitution to seek assistanceofthefederalandprovincial authorities concerned in the delimitation of constituencies and revision of electoral rolls.
In separate letters issued to the secretary of statistics division, four provincial chief secretaries and additional chief secretary of theFederally Administered Tribal Areas, the ECP has asked them to furnish by Jan 10 data, maps and other information related to delimitation.
A senior ECP of ficial told Dawn that traditional lethargy had forced the commission to invoke Article 220, which reads `it shall be the duty of all executive authorities in the federation and in the provinces to assist the commissioner and the Election Commission in the discharge of his or their functions`.
Citing the delay in the process involving the president`s assent to the law allowing the conduct of delimitation on the basis of provisional census results as a classic example of the traditional culture of lethargy, the official said that `we cannot afford to waste even a single day now`.
He said sufficient time had already been wasted in getting the elections bill passed from the Senate af ter its passage by the National Assembly and it was not possible to amend the already squeezed timelines for delimitation, revision of electoral rolls and other related activities. Giving an example, he said that if the required data was provided to the commission af ter a delay of 10 days, it would mean commencement of the delimitation process 10 days later than originally planned. He said that timely elections were possible only if the delimitation exercise was carried out as per plan.
Saying that the ECP would assert its authority to ensure that the deadlines were met, he reminded that the ECP enjoyed clearly defined powers to punish contemnors and said that any failure to comply with the directives would be tantamount to contempt of the commission.
The letters written by ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad drew their attention to the sixth population census held earlier this year, saying that through the Constitution (24th) Amendment Act, 2017, clauses 3 and 5 of the Article 51 have been amended according to which seats in the National Assembly have been allocated to each province, Fata and the federal capital on the basis of provisional census results.
It has been pointed out that the ECP is under constitutional obligation to delimit the constituencies and revise the electoral rolls accordingly. `In order to accomplish these national tasks well before the upcoming general elections, the Election Commission is pleased to invoke Article 220 of the Constitution....,` the letters read.
The letters have drawn the attention of provincial chief secretaries to the paucity of time and recalled that the ECP had on Dec 22 issued directives requiring the authorities concerned to assist the commission in delimitation and revision of electoral rolls. The authorities have been directed to accomplish various tasks and furnish necessary information to the commission within the stipulated dates. The provincial chief secretaries have been asked to submit the required information by Jan 10.
Informed sources said the Balochistan chief secretary had assured the ECP that the required information would be submitted before Jan 10.