ISLAMABAD -  The Supreme Court on Tuesday once again granted opportunity to the federal government to come up with an exact timeframe for holding census in the country.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, heard a suo motu notice about inordinate delay in population census.

Justice Jamali said delay in holding of census has negative impact on individuals and the democratic system. He inquired from the attorney general that if the census would be held next year then how the general elections in 2018 would be held as sometime is required for tabulation of results.

He said on the basis of census result, the seats in the National and provincial assemblies would be allocated and the delimitation process of constituencies would be carried out.

Attorney General for Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf replied that the census result’s could be tabulated in 15 days as everything is computerised. He said that there is no ill-intention and the wrong on the part of the government as it earnestly desires to conduct census.

The chief justice said there seemed to be bad intention of beneficiary of the status quo, as without the PC-1 the projects are inaugurated and later on the land is acquired. He said they are not blaming the incumbent government, as the previous governments are also responsible for the delay. However, he said, this government has been running the affairs for the past three-and-half years.

The chief justice before giving two weeks time to federation said there is issue of face saving for court otherwise one day people would say the courts only paying lip services.

At the start of the hearing, the chief justice asked from the Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf what news you have brought. He replied that on the last date the court had ordered the AGP office to give presentation regarding the preparation of census. The AGP said they were ready for the presentation and if allowed then can give it in the courtroom or the chamber.

The chief justice remarked that the presentation is not the solution. “We would like to know how much progress has been made, as this (presentation) is useless because after 1998 no census was held, despite lapse of 18 years,” he added.

The chief justice said they have no concern with the report but wanted the government take solid steps for holding the census.

The attorney general said that the government was ready to hold census in March 2016 and it had allocated funds for this purpose. He said: “I personally met with the minister and the concerned authorities and make categorical statement with full responsibility that the census would be held in March 2017as it is mandatory for future.”

The chief justice remarked that it was only the pretext that the army was not available. He said the army letter does not mention it. The CJP said it was not logistic and the legal requirement of army for census, adding it was also not written anywhere that the census should be held on one day throughout the country.

The AGP replied that last month the Pakistan Statistics Bureau held a conference on this issue and international experts participated. He said according to them the census should be held on one day throughout the country. The case was adjourned for two weeks.