PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench has asked the Election Commission of Pakistan to respond to a petition filed by ANP leader Haji Ghulam Ahmad Bilour for the award of the first National Assembly constituency number NA-1 to Peshawar`s old city area.
Justice Syed Attique Shah and Justice Syed Arshad Ali took up for preliminary hearing the petition against the decision of the ECP in the delimitation of constituencies to allocate the numerical number NA-1 to Chitral while historically this number was of the constituency comprising old city of Peshawar, which has now been numbered as NA-31 Peshawar V.
The bench fixed Jun 12 for next hearing of the petition.
Mr Bilour had challenged the May 2 ECP order to turn down his request in that respect and the May 3 Gazette notification of the final list of delimitation of constituencies to the extent of starting the numbers of NA constituencies from Chitral instead of Peshawar.
He prayed the court to declare the May 2 ECP order and the consequent gazette notification of May 3 to the extent of the numerical order of the National Assembly constituencies of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province `unreasonable, irrational and illegal`.
He requested the court to direct the ECP to allot the constituency number, NA-1, to Peshawar city constituency of NA-31 Peshawar-V. The ECP through its secretary is the respondent in the peddon.
M Sangeen Khan, lawyer for the petitioner, said his client was a voter of NA-31, Peshawar-V, which was previously numbered as NA-1 Peshawar I.
He said the petitioner had contested several elections on the same seat since 1970 and had won on different occasions.
The lawyer said the ECP had published preliminary list of constituencies after delimitation on Mar 5 against which several objections/representations were filed. He said the petitioner had also filed representation/objection petition before the ECP and had raised several factual and legal objections.
The lawyer said the ECP had heard the case on Apr 9 and through its order on May 2 partially allowed the petition, however a major prayer of the petitioner in respect of restoring the former numerical order of the constituency as NA-1, was dismissed.
He said Rule 10 (5) of the Election Rules, 2017, provided that delimitation of the constituencies should start from the northern end of the district or as the case may be, the agency.
He added that the ECP had extended this rule to the numerical order of the constituencies, which was beyond the scope of the rule and thus illegal.
The lawyer said the historical city of Peshawar had been a major route of trade, invasions and incursions towards the Indian Subcontinent.
He added that history was witness to the historical significance and prominence of this old city and hundreds of thousands of residents, voters and political activists of different parties across the political spectrum had a special attachment with the old city numbered as NA-1.
The lawyer said the importance of the constituency could be judged from the fact that several central leaders of different political parties including late Benazir Bhutto had contested on NA-1, Peshawar-I. He said the delimitation of constituencies did not necessitate renumbering of the constituencies.
Published in Dawn on May 2nd, 2018