ECP to hear delimitation grievances after Feb 8 polls

Our Correspondent
A security personnel stands guard at the headquarters of the Election Commission of Pakistan in Islamabad, Pakistan on September 21, 2023. — AFP
A security personnel stands guard at the headquarters of the Election Commission of Pakistan in Islamabad, Pakistan on September 21, 2023. — AFP

  • Grievances were raised to ensure fair and effective representation.
  • Polls will be affected if petitions are fixed for hearing now: ECP.
  • ECP says delimitation doesn't hold same immediacy as polls.

ISLAMABAD: Following grievances against delimitations raised before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the electoral body has decided to hear the 15 complaints after February 8, 2024, The News reported on Sunday.

In the context of the delimitation issue, the electoral body cited the recent order by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

The top court’s order has virtually closed all doors to election delay as courts across the country would not be able to entertain any petition challenging delimitation carried out by the ECP any more.

The notification, carrying signatures of the Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja and four members of the Election Commission, read: "The Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan, while hearing the matter in respect of delimitation of District Zhob, Sherani in Civil Petition No 4305/2023 titled as Gul Khan and Others Vs. Saeed-ur-Rehman and Others held that: The conduct of General Elections is not a procedural necessity but a fundamental principle upholding the democratic ethos.

On the other hand, the delimitation of the constituency, although significant for ensuring fair and effective representation, does not hold the same immediacy or overriding importance as the conduct of general elections."

"Postponing general elections to address constituency delimitation could lead to a vacuum in governance and the potential crisis of legitimacy. Therefore, the principle of proportionality and the concept of larger good demand that general elections be given primacy.

"Issue concerning the delimitation of constituency, while important, should be addressed subsequent to elections, therefore, if we proceed to adjudicate upon the issue of delimitation of constituencies before us thereby re-examining or altering the notified constituencies by the ECP under challenged, we will invariably upset the timeline of the Election Programme and derail the electoral process already set afoot by the Election Program announced on 15.12.2023,” the SC order stated.

The ECP said the apex court, in the above-mentioned civil petition, has directed that the electoral watchdog shall organise and conduct the elections as per the final delimitation notified on November 30 this year according to the election programme notified on December 15, 2023.

Now, therefore, the ECP in terms of Article 218(3) of the Constitution read with Section 8 of the Elections Act, 2017 and the judgment passed by the SC in the civil petition decides that if at this stage the petitions are fixed for hearing, it will adversely affect the election schedule and the last date for filing of nomination papers.

"Therefore, the hearing of the subject cases are deferred till the culmination of the General Elections 2024 and election will be held in the constituencies as per Form-VII issued by the Commission dated 30.11.2023 subject to any correction, if occasioned. In terms of Section 22 of the Election Act, 2017, no alteration/amendments can be made after the issuance of Election Program," the ECP says in its order.