ECP directed to carve out 2 NA constituencies afresh

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Adil Shaheen

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) Friday directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to notify the delimitation of two National Assembly (NA) constituencies afresh as the poll-related issues grow with the date of the general elections nearing.

The national polls governing body had notified the final list of delimitation of constituencies of the national and four provincial assemblies last month, for the elections slated for February 8, 2024.

In its notification, the ECP said that according to Article 51(3) of the Constitution, the National Assembly consists of 266 general seats, with 60 seats reserved for women and additionally 10 for non-Muslims.

The development paved the way for the announcement of the election schedule, which was expected during the first week of December as announced by the ECP, but is yet to be announced, with a Lahore High Court order further complicating the issue.

However, a bench headed by IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq declared two constituencies, NA-35 and NA-36, of Kohat district void while announcing a decision over an appeal on the electoral watchdog’s notification of the said constituencies.

The appellant maintained that according to sections of the Election Act 2017, the population of all constituencies should be homogeneous, and the variation in population between two or more constituencies should not ordinarily exceed 10%.

He contended that the new constituencies carved out by the ECP would violate the area locals’ right to vote due to the difference in populations.

After hearing arguments from both parties, the court set aside the ECP’s notification of the two constituencies and referred the matter back to the polls governing body, directing it to revisit the issue in the light of appellant’s stance.

“[…] decision of ECP to the extent of Constituencies NA-35 & NA-36 is set aside and the matter is referred back to the ECP, which shall decide the issue afresh after hearing everyone concerned,” the short order issued by the IHC stated.