PHC bars oath-taking of MNAs notified on seats denied to PTI-SIC

PHC bars oath-taking of MNAs notified on seats denied to PTI-SIC

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Couty (PHC) on Wednesday barred the oath-taking of lawmakers notified on reserved seats denied to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-backed Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), Geo News reported.

The directives were issued during today’s hearing conducted by Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim and Justice Shakeel Ahmad. The court issued a stay order preventing members from swearing in and directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to submit its response in the said matter by Thursday.

The development comes as the party had announced to challenge the electoral body’s verdict, issued on Monday, wherein it rejected the SIC’s — whom the PTI-backed independent candidates had joined — plea for allocation of reserved seats.

The electoral body instead accepted applications of the opposing parties and decided that the seats in the National Assembly and provincial assemblies would not remain vacant and would be allocated by a proportional representation process of political parties on the basis of seats won by political parties.

In its ruling, the ECP stated that the SIC could not claim the share in the reserved seats for the women “due to non-curable procedural and legal defects and violations of mandatory provisions of the Constitution”

The reserved seats were awarded to all political parties as per their strength in the assemblies, except the PTI-backed SIC.

Following the allocation of reserved seats, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and its allies have obtained a two-thirds majority (230 members) in the National Assembly.

Today’s hearing
At the onset of the hearing today, the court questioned whether the high court can be moved on the issue of reserved seats.

Elaborating on the plea, the petitioner’s lawyer Qazi Anwar cited Articles 51 and 106 of the constitution stressing that the PTI-backed independent candidates had joined the SIC within the three-day deadline.

“This is an accepted fact and no one can ignore it,” remarked Justice Ibrahim.

Lamenting the ECP’s decision, Anwar stressed that the electoral body’s decision to “distribute” the party’s reserved seats to other parties.

“Women and minorities’s reserved seats are our right,” the lawyer said.

Notifying the attorney general and the advocate general to assist the court in the matter, the court then referred the case to the PHC chief justice for the constitution of a larger bench to hear the case.