SC dismisses MQM-P plea for delay in Sindh LG polls

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed Mutthida Quomi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P) petition seeking postponement of Sindh local government elections.

A three-member SC bench comprising Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Ayesha A Malik heard the petition filed by MQM’s Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and others against the Sindh Government regarding delimitation of constituencies for the local bodies election.

During the course of proceedings, the court directed the MQM-P to approach the relevant forum if it wants to delay the second phase of elections.

The court noted that the constitutional points that were not raised by the petitioner at the Sindh High Court could not be raised with the Supreme Court.

It was referring to the MQM-P’s objections against Section 10(1) of the Sindh Local Government Act (SLGA), which the MQM had reportedly not raised with the Sindh High Court.

Wrapping up a separate plea filed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) for holding the polls in line with the schedule, the chief justice said that the elections would be held on time “come what may.”

Hafiz Naeemur Rehman, Jamaat-e-Islami Karachi Chief, also requested the bench not to pass any order which could delay the LG elections in Karachi.

Salahuddin Ahmed, counsel representing the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf also supported the timely LG elections.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) citing heavy rains and other reasons had postponed the second phase of the local bodies’ elections till August 28 which was originally scheduled to take place on July 24.

The chief justice said it became clear that the delimitation of constituencies was carried out by ECP and the local administration.

The Assistant Attorney General (AAG) maintained that the Sindh government had framed guidelines for delimitation in light of Supreme Court’s orders.

The chief justice noted that the SC could not rule on such points that were raised before the Sindh High Court (SHC).

Advocate Khalid Jawed Khan counsel for the unopposed elected representatives appeared in the court and said that the number of union committees was decided by the provincial government in Punjab and KP while the Election Commission held delimitation of constituencies in other provinces.

Demarcation and delimitation of constituencies were done by taking into account factors other than population, he added.

He said that the vote for the prime minister was equal whether the constituency of the National Assembly was 400,000 or 1000,000.

The difference in the proportion of votes varied in each constituency from local government election to the National Assembly, he added.

The chief justice asked why were the points raised by MQM not taken up in the Sindh High Court? He said that a few days before the polling, a request was made to stop the first phase of the election.

He said that how Supreme Court could consider new points in appeal.

Khalid Jawed Khan said that the Constitution also did not give the Election Commission authority to change the number of constituencies.

The number of constituencies was determined by the constitution and by law, he added.

The Advocate General Sindh said that MQM did not approach the delimitation authority. The Election Commission and the Provincial Government work together, he added.

He said that several delimitation of constituencies had been changed on the instructions of the Election Commission.

The voters did not care about the delimitation of constituencies, he added.

He said that the problem of political parties was only the election of mayor.

He asked who knew from which party the mayor would be elected.

The chief justice said that the delimitation of constituencies should not be so general.

The Election Commission had to explain to the court on what basis the delimitation of constituencies were done, he added.

He said that the problem was not only about elections but also about development schemes and funds.

Cases had come from inside Sindh that two districts had been merged to form one constituency while on the other hand two constituencies of a district had also been created, he added.

He said that there should not be a constituency of 400,000 voters and other 1000,000 voters.

There was talk of making South Punjab a separate province due to lack of proper representation and funds, he added.

He said that the court would hear the position of the Election Commission on these points in another case.

The Advocate General Sindh said that demarcation also examined the facilities available to the public.

The Secretary Local Government Sindh said that the speed and spread of development in different areas was also an aspect.

The chief justice said that it had become clear that the delimitation of constituencies were done in collaboration with the Election Commission and the local administration but it was not clear on what basis delimitation of constituencies was done.

The Advocate General Sindh said that the Sindh government had made the delimitation guidelines in the light of the Supreme Court decisions.

 

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