Home Latest News Fresh Delimitation Essential for True Reflection of Voters in Parliament: ECP

Fresh Delimitation Essential for True Reflection of Voters in Parliament: ECP

Electoral body cites Supreme Court rulings, constitutional provisions to justify delay in polls following publication of 7th population census

by Staff Report


Following the publication of the 7th Population and Housing Census by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is bound to delimit constituencies to ensure the true representation of voters, contesting candidates and political parties in Parliament and the provincial assembly, the electoral body has said.

In a three-page order summarizing its deliberations over the digital census and general elections, the ECP stressed that the accurate representation of voters, candidates and political groups was the fundamental principle of constitutional democracy, as envisaged by the Constitution. It noted that under Article 218(3)—which binds the ECP to organize and conduct elections in a just and fair manner—the electoral body was not solely required to arrange polling staff and ballot papers, but also prepare updated electoral rolls in terms of Article 219(a) and the delimitation of constituencies.

The ECP’s order has been issued amidst rising criticism of an expected delay of 3-4 months in the conduct of general elections due to the fresh delimitation schedule issued by the electoral body. Spanning Aug. 17 through Dec. 14, the schedule all-but-ensures elections cannot take place by mid-November, when the constitutional deadline of elections being held within 90 days of the National Assembly’s dissolution expires. In addition to the PTI, the PPP, JI and JUIF have all criticized the delay and demanded that elections be held on time as per the prevailing delimitations.

Under Article 218(3), read with Section 17(2) of the Elections Act 2017, the ECP said it shall delimit constituencies after the publication of every census. It noted that the digital census had shown “substantial changes in the population in the provinces and constituencies at district level,” adding it had sought from the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) details of district-wise changes of constituencies as well as details of newly-created districts and its impact on existing constituencies.

The new census, read the ECP’s order, had shown “approximately 20,805 census blocks have increased, some have been merged while others have split, for which revision/updation of the electoral rolls is necessary to adjust the registered voters in accordance with census charges, circles and blocks according to census 2023.” Noting ensuring “true representation” of the electoral was one of its constitutional duties, the ECP emphasized this was the “bedrock” of parliamentary democracy as well as the fundamental right of contesting candidates, political parties and the electorate under Article 17(2) of the Constitution.

Citing Supreme Court rulings in the cases of worker’s party; Benazir Bhutto vs. the federation of Pakistan; and Chaudhry Nasir Iqbal vs. Federation of Pakistan, it noted they had all held that right to vote, right to contest election and right to form a political party were fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution. “Without fresh delimitation of constituencies, and updated electoral rolls, none of the voters of constituencies, contesting candidates and political parties will have true representation in the Parliament and provincial assemblies, which is the fundamental principle of constitutional democracy as envisaged by the Constitution,” it added.

As per settled law, read the order, different provisions of the Constitution are to be read together, reconciled and harmonized to give a true and meaningful interpretation to the Constitution. “The delimitation of constituencies and updated, error-free electoral rolls after each population census officially published are pre-requisites of elections,” it reiterated, adding that in light of this it had decided to conduct fresh delimitation of constituencies on the basis of last preceding census officially published in 2023, which it emphasized was a mandatory legal requirement.

This exercise, it stated, must take place before the next general elections to ensure the fulfillment of duty under Article 218(3) of the Constitution and for the true representation to the electorate, political parties and contesting candidates to protect their fundamental rights as guaranteed under Article 17(2). This would ensure, it added, that elections were conducted “honestly, justly und fairly.”

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