LHC suspends ECP order denotifying 70 PTI MNAs

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LAHORE: In another immediate relief to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday suspended the order of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) that denotified 70 lawmakers of the former ruling party who had resigned en masse last year in April.

A single-member bench of the LHC headed by Justice Shahid Karim heard the PTI plea today and issued the notices to the ECP and National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf and others, directing them to submit their responses by March 7.

The lawmakers had approached the high court challenging the acceptance of their resignation and subsequent denotification by the commission after the high court suspended a similar order of the ECP regarding 43 PTI MNAs.

Speaker Ashraf had accepted the resignation of 34 PTI lawmakers on January 17 and 35 MNAs on January 20, including Imran Khan ally Shiekh Rashid, which were then denotified by the commission and by-elections were announced.

Earlier this month, Riaz Fatyana and 42 other MNAs whose resignations were “accepted by the NA Speaker Ashraf on January 22” had filed a petition challenging the decisions of the NA speaker and the ECP.

The LHC judge had on Feb 8 ordered that the notification of the ECP shall remain suspended and the election schedule for the seats shall not be announced by the ECP.

“The process of by-elections to these seats shall remain suspended,” the court order reads. The court had admitted the petition for regular hearing seeking replies from the NA speaker, the ECP and the federal government by March 7.