ISLAMABAD  - The Supreme Court on Monday directed Punjab, Sindh and Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to complete the delimitation of constituencies and other arrangements in both the provinces within a month.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk, was hearing the case related to local bodies elections in Punjab and Sindh. The bench disposed of the case pertaining to appointment of Chief Election Commissioner as the federal government complied its order.

Advocate Akram Sheikh on behalf of the ECP filed a report and told that the Punjab and Sindh government representatives had held a meeting with the ECP officials. He further informed that the ECP would not cause delay, adding Punjab had sought 15 days, while Sindh demanded one month to demarcate and determine the Union Councils and Wards and amend the Local Government laws.

The chief justice questioned why the Sindh government needed 30 days, while the Punjab could complete the same task in 15 days. Additional Advocate General Shafi Chandio apprised that the Election Commission had pointed out an amendment in the Sindh Local Government Act. He said a meeting scheduled with all the deputy commissioners on December 4 was held on Monday to demarcate and determine the Union Councils and Wards in view of amendment in LB polls, therefore, one month is required.

Punjab Additional Advocate General Razak A Mirza submitting a report informed that as per court direction on 1st December 2014 a meeting was held in ECP Secretariat wherein it was decided to make further amendments in the Punjab Local Government Act, 2013 regarding delimitation of local areas and holding of bye-election.

The Punjab government will provide the requisite information regarding demarcation of local governments and determination of number of Union Councils and Wards therein to the ECP with two weeks.

To determine the number of Union Councils and Wards, the Punjab government in LG & CD has directed all the District Coordination Officers in the province to provide consolidated maps of each local government along with description of areas falling therein on the prescribed proforma.

The ECP counsel informed that the draft bill has been prepared for the local bodies elections in the Cantonments, adding in that regard a meeting was held on December 6. The meeting was adjourned till January 8, 2015.

Ghaus’ victory challenged

Pakistan People’s Party leader Nawab Ali Wasan has challenged the Election Tribunal’s December 6 verdict, wherein senior politician Syed Ghous Ali Shah is declared as returned candidate from NA-215 Khairpur-1 after the passage of 18 months of election.

The PPP leader moved the petition though his counsel Farooq H Naek, requesting the apex court to set aside the ET Karachi’s decision. The petitioner contended that the tribunal’s verdict is based upon surmises and conjectures and contrary to the law applicable thereto as well as judgments of the superior courts in the matter, adding that there is also misreading and non-reading of evidence by the Election Tribunal Karachi.

It is also stated that the Election Tribunal failed to appreciate that the burden to prove alleged corrupt practices was on Syed Ghous Ali Shah and the same was to prove beyond reasonable doubt.

“The impugned judgment is not only perverse but also injudicious, arbitrary, unduly harsh against facts and circumstances of the case,” the petition further contended.

It is submitted that ET’s verdict has been passed in a hasty manner and without application to judicious mind.

“The applicant had received 91,809 and (respondent No 1) Syed Ghous Ali Shah only 66,481 thus difference of 25,328 votes between them, therefore, respondent No 1 could not have been declared as a returned candidate.”

It is to be noted here that Ghous Shah had contested last year’s general election on a PML-N ticket, but lost it to Wassan. He, however, challenged the election results, alleging that the returned candidate had committed illegal practices such as harassing his voters, wrongfully confining the polling staff, snatched and stuffed ballot boxes with bogus votes - which was verified by the National Database Registration Authority (NADRA).

He claimed that the report of NADRA also supported the allegations of mass rigging as out of 174,645 counterfoils bearing the thumb impressions of the purported voters only 47,291 could be authenticated as belonging to genuine voters.

He also accused former home minister Manzoor Ali Wassan of holding the entire district administration hostage to rig the polls.

The tribunal observed that on the basis of concrete evidence there is also no doubt that the returned candidate is an influential person being a relative of Manzoor Hussain Wassan, former home minister in the previous government, prior to the caretaker set-up in the province.