LAHORE: A full bench of Lahore High Court on Tuesday declared the delimitation process carried out by the Punjab government as illegal and directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to carry out new delimitation of constituencies for local government elections.
Bench comprising Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Muhammad Farraukh Irfan Khan and Justice Atar Mahmood held that process of delimitations was completed only within 11 days, which was astonishing.
It remarked that it was not the Red Cliff Award, which defined boundary of two countries with one stroke of pen.
Bench also declared section 8 and 9 of the Punjab Local Government Act 2013 as illegal and directed the Punjab government to make new legislation by giving the process of delimitation within the purview of the ECP after taking it from the executive.
Section 8 (3) of the law says, `The Government shall, in the prescribed manner, delimit a Union Council into six wards for the election of members on general seats and into two wards, consisting of three adjoining wards of the Union Council, for the election of the two seats reserved for women.” Section 9 (1) states “The Government shall, in the prescribed manner, delimit a Municipal Committee into wards for election of members of the Municipal Committee on general seats.’”
Earlier on Tuesday, bench after hearing the detailed arguments reserved the judgment and after some time it announced a short order wherein it declared section 8 and 9 of the PLGA as against the constitution. It directed the election commission to fulfil its responsibility regarding delimitation so that election could be held on time. The detailed judgment on this matter would be announced later.
A resident of Toba Tek Singh, Iqrar Hussain and others filed the petition. Petitioner counsel Muhammad Azhar Siddique said that both the benches did not consider the constitutional implication of section 10-A.
He said that under article 199 of the Constitution, the LHC had infinite powers to take up constitutional and legal issues. He said that it was an issue of public interest and doors should not be closed to elect a public representative and the LHC had every authority to settle the issue.
Petitioner counsel earlier had submitted that LHC single bench had given decision in favour of delimitation while another single bench had decided against the delimitation. He said out that LHC’s two parallel decisions had created anomaly and a large bench should adjudicate upon the matter to remove the irregularity.
He said that the provincial government had taken steps for delimitation of areas for these elections. He said that the authority of delimitation rests with the election commission and the Punjab government action was illegal.
He also said that neither government nor courts could decide about delimitation once election schedule was announced. He requested that the provincial government should be restrained from doing some delimitation and should also be directed to hold early and party-based elections.
Additional Attorney General Naseer Bhutt, while opposing the petition, said that the new delimitations were done according to the local government law and now the delimitation process could not be questioned before a court of law. He said that after issuance of the election schedule the delimitations could not be carried out. He claimed that provincial government was empowered to carry out delimitations as it was done in 2000 by the then provincial government. He also said delimitations were not part of the elections and it was responsibility of the government to facilitate the election commission in this regard.
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