KARACHI  – The Sindh High Court has stayed printing of ballot papers for 11 constituencies of Karachi.

The SHC had reserved its judgment till Monday on the petition filed by MQM against delimitation of three national and eight provincial assembly constituencies in Karachi.

MQM had challenged the Election Commission’s March 22 notification regarding delimitation of 11 Karachi constituencies, terming it against the spirit and principle of one man-one vote.

In his concluding arguments, Deputy Attorney General Ashiq Raza submitted that constituencies were redrawn following the Supreme Court order in Karachi violence case. He contended the Election Commission was empowered under Section 10-A of the Delimitation of Constituencies Act to redraw the constituencies.

The commission also justified the delimitation, mentioning the apex court had observed that boundaries of administrative units like police stations and revenue estates ought to be altered to avoid political polarisation and break the cycle of ethnic strife and turf wars.

The court was told that schedule for the general elections 2013 was issued on March 22 and the process started with the issuance of schedule and not on the completion of the term of assemblies. “The petition is not maintainable and devoid of any merit and may kindly be dismissed,” the Election Commission submitted.

MQM counsel Farogh Naseem submitted that delimitation was not made according to the last recognised census of 1998 but on the basis of incomplete census. The constituencies were redrawn without a fresh census, which could not be done under the law, he argued.

The lawyer contended that after the election process had started neither the constituencies could be redrawn nor could the electoral rolls be changed as both were relevant to each other and would affect the entire election process.

Hearing the petition filed by MQM against the new delimitation of Karachi constituencies, the SHC issued stay order till April 21 and sough answer from the Election Commission on April 22.

Meanwhile, Sindh High Court on Monday issued a contempt of court notice to the Sindh election commissioner for not complying with the Supreme Court order pertaining to redrawing of electoral constituencies in the province.

According to a private television channel, Sindh Election Commissioner SM Tariq Qadri was served the notice when a representative of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) failed to present official notification of delimitation of constituencies for provincial and National Assembly seats in Noshero Feroz district of Sindh.

In March, the ECP’s Sindh chapter submitted a written reply to the Sindh High Court, claiming that a committee, headed by Justice (r) Roshan Esani, had been constituted to complete the task within seven days.