Karachi: Sindh High Court (SHC) here Thursday was assured by the government side that the grievances of petitioner Altaf Shakoor would be resolved in two weeks.
A bench headed by Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar heared the petition. During last hearing the government side had not filed their replies and ths the honourable court had given time. However, during today’s hearing the attorneys of federal and Sindh government and other respondants were present and they assured the court that the grievances of the petitioner would be resolved in two weeks.
This constitutional petition was filed by chairman of Pasban Democratic Party (PDP) Altaf Shakoor.
Advocate Irfan Aziz, who represented the petitioner, said that this constitutional petition is about the Article 27 of the constitution. He said this Article 27 was expired in 2013 but no amendment was made in the constitutional. He maintained that all recruitments on quota after the expiry of Article 27 in 2013 are illegal and we have challenged them in the SHC.
It may be noted that in his petition, Altaf Shakoor had submitted that the human capital is the most important asset of any society and conducting periodical national census is important to compile a numerical profile of this human capital and conduct national planning and related decision-making processes at all levels on the basis of this data. He submitted that the Constitution of Pakistan gives an obligation of conducting census after every 10 years.
He submitted that the first census was held after the independence of the country in 1951, the second in 1961, and the third in 1972. The fourth population census was scheduled to be conducted in March 1981 and the fifth one was due in 1991 but could be held in 1998. The recent sixth census was held in April 2017 as per the directions of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. It began on 15 March 2017 and ended on 25 May 2017. It was conducted by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics.
The petitioner submitted that, though the process was completed on time, but the provisional results were delayed by a month. Resultantly, different political parties raised questions about the credibility of the results.
The petitioner said that the census results also play a crucial role in the parliamentary democracy. The Article 51(5) of the Constitutional of Pakistan 1973 says: “The seats in the National Assembly shall be allocated to each Province, the Federally Administration Tribal Areas and the Federal Capital on the basis of population in accordance with the last preceding census officially published.”
That, the population census has always been contentious in Pakistan as political parties in smaller provinces, especially Sindh, believe that their numbers have been manipulated to deny them their rightful share in federal resources. Due to the similar reservations allegations about procedural flaws, the results of an earlier census, held in 2011 were annulled.
That, these reservations and allegations consequently resulted into judicial intervention, and the authorities were directed to conduct 2017 national population census with army’s tacit support. That, like past this time also different political parties expressed reservations over the validity of the census data, especially in Sindh, due to the absence of a post-enumeration survey.
The petitioner submitted that as the elected local bodies have already completed their term on 29th August, 2020, and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is under an obligation to hold the next local government elections within 120 days after the expiry of the term of elected local government bodies, i.e., 29th August, 2020.
That, as the delimitation of parliamentary seats is going to be based on this census, non-redressal of the reservations of political parties and delay in final results has put a big question mark on holding of local bodies elections, especially in Sindh. That, the completion of the process of 5 percent validation exercise of the 6th national census and announcement of its results is still pending.
The Petitioner prayed that in the larger interest of the public and to ensure uphold of law, supremacy of Constitution and continuity of democratic process in Pakistan: The honorable court may please order completion of the post-enumeration audit of five per cent census blocks of the 6th national population census at the earliest.
He further prayed to order, announcement of the final results of the 6th national population census at the earliest. He prayed to order announcing the new delimitation of constituencies, based on the final results of the 2017. He also prayed to order the holding of the new local bodies’ elections in Pakistan including Sindh as per their schedule, which is within 120 days after the expiry of the term of elected local government bodies, i.e., 29th August, 2020.