ECP finally gets parliament’s nod to delimit constituencies for 2018 polls


–Senate votes 84-1 on 24th Constitutional Amendment Bill which allows delimitation of constituencies on basis of provisional census results

ISLAMABAD: The Upper House of Parliament on Tuesday passed the crucial delimitation bill on Tuesday with 84 voting in favour of the motion and one against.

The 24th Constitutional Amendment Bill 2017 will allow the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to conduct the delimitation of constituencies on the basis of provisional results of the population census. The National Assembly had already passed the bill last month.

The Senate was unable to vote on the bill on Nov 17 when it was first tabled in the Upper House as several legislators had remained absent from the session on that day, with only 58 of the 104 senators present. The bill was again placed on the Senate’s agenda on Nov 20, however the absence of lawmakers had once again delayed voting on the bill. Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq had sought deferment for two days and the bill was placed on the Senate’s agenda for Nov 22 but the House again failed to carry out a vote on it.

Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani read the clauses of the bill during Tuesday’s proceedings, during which the House was open to questions from lawmakers.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam’s Senator Hafiz Hamdullah asked about the hurdles in the delay in the bill, saying that the reservations were cleared in the Lower House of parliament earlier.

The other agenda items included three adjournment motions for admissibility, two motions under Rule 194 (1), two Calling Attention Notices, the COMSATS Institute of Information Technology Bill, 2017 and ministerial response to a point of public importance.

The National Assembly passed this bill on November 16, 2017 with a two-third majority to consider the provisional results of census 2017 to make delimitation of constituencies for upcoming general elections 2018. A total of 233 members voted in favour of it and one member opposed it.

It is worth noting that two-thirds majority in the Senate, having a total strength of 104, was required to get the Constitutional Amendment passed. The government had developed consensus with main political parties in the House to attain the required strength of 69 members.

The passage of the bill will not change the 272 seats strength of the National Assembly.

The bill will decrease nine National Assembly seats (seven general and two women seats) of the most populous Punjab province, and will increase five seats (four general and women seats ) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, three seats of the largest province of Balochistan (two general, one women seats) and one of federal capital.

The number of NA seats for Sindh province and FATA will remain the same.

The bill seeks to carry out fresh delimitation of constituencies on the basis of officially published census results.

It sought the delimitation for the general elections 2018 on the basis of the provisional results of the 6th Population and Housing Census 2017. The amendment sought in Article 51 (5) will allow to re-allocate seats as per provisional census results.

The existing Article 51 (5) requires that the “seats in the National Assembly shall be allocated to each Province, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the Federal Capital on the basis of population in accordance with the last preceding census officially published”.