Thursday April 18, 2024

ECP combines SIC petitions seeking allocation of reserved seats

Gohar says no assembly session can be held until the reserved seats are decided

By Web Desk
February 27, 2024
Facade of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) head office in Islamabad. —AFP/File
Facade of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) head office in Islamabad. —AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Tuesday combined all the petitions filed by the Sunni Itthad Council (SIC) seeking allocation of reserved seats.

The ECP had Monday decided to hold an open hearing on the SIC pleas seeking allotment of reserved seats after Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) affiliated legislators joined the party.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan's (MQM-P) Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, advocate Farogh Naseem, and SIC's Barrister Ali Zafar appeared before the five-member bench of the electoral watchdog.

During the hearing today, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Advocate Farooq H Naek and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz's (PML-N) leader Azam Nazeer Tarar presented arguments.

Moreover, Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja also issued notices to Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, SIC, Mahmood Khan, Maulvi Iqbal Haider and Kunz-us-Saadat.

The development came after it emerged that President Alvi had reportedly refused to sign a Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs summary seeking the convening of a National Assembly session.

President Alvi maintained that the remaining reserved seats should be allocated before summoning the NA session which was supposed to be held within 21 days of the elections under the Constitution.

Today's hearing

At the outset of the hearing, Barrister Zafar said that the PTI had approached the ECP to claim the reserved seats and if the political parties wanted to take the seats then they should openly say so.

The MQM-P, PPP and PML-N should come as political parties and claim those seats, he told the bench.

“My argument is that if someone comes and claims ownership of a seat, he cannot get the seat,” he said.

An ECP member apprised him that Siddiqui had come demanding that the seats should not be given to the PTI.

Naek then interrupted and said he was also representing a political party. He said it was the commission’s prerogative to decide who should be given the reserved seats.

Barrister Zafar said nobody had the right to take his seat as his plea regarding the reserved seats was also present with the ECP which should be fixed for hearing.

The CEC said the ECP had fixed the relevant pleas for hearing and Zafar was a litigant in the cases.

Tarar argued that since the SIC did not win a single seat then how it can be given reserved seats by gathering some independent candidates.

The PTI-backed candidates entered the parliament through a party that was rejected by the masses, he said adding that they did not earlier submit a petition seeking reserved seats.

He said the SIC was not a parliamentary party, hence, how it could be given reserved seats.

At this, CEC Raja replied he should leave that to the ECP to decide.

The election commission adjourned the hearing by consolidating all the pleas till tomorrow (Wednesday).

CEC Raja told Zafar that he was fixing his petitions for tomorrow as well.

Punjab, Sindh assemblies sessions illegal: Gohar

PTI leader Barrister Gohar Ali Khan said no assembly session could be held until the reserved seats were decided.

He said the sessions held by the Sindh and Punjab assemblies were "illegal", hence, the ECP should take notice of those.

Talking to media persons in Islamabad, Gohar said that the party hoped that the ECP's decision on the issue of allocation of reserved seats would be just and fair.

Emphasising SIC's right to its share of the reserved seats, the PTI leader said that he expected that the issue would be decided by Wednesday. He apprised that the PTI had lodged four pleas in the ECP on behalf of the SIC seeking allocation of its reserved seats.

“At least 90 MPAs joined the SIC in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 107 in Punjab, nine in Sindh and seven in Balochistan,” he said.

Gohar said the electoral body’s cause list did not include the case, therefore, it had been adjourned till the next day. He said the mandate was snatched on February 8 as they were not allotted the 'bat' symbol.

He claimed that they had a total of 227 seats.

It was written in the law that an independent candidate could join any party within three days, he said, hoping that the ECP would announce its verdict keeping in view the people’s mandate.