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Sunday April 14, 2024

Verdict reserved on SIC petitions seeking share of reserved seats

Electoral body took up plea after President Alvi refused summon National Assembly session

By Nausheen Yusuf
February 28, 2024
An anti-terrorist force personal uses a metal detector to check the area of the Election Commission of Pakistan in Islamabad on August 26, 2008. — AFP
An anti-terrorist force personal uses a metal detector to check the area of the Election Commission of Pakistan in Islamabad on August 26, 2008. — AFP

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan on Wednesday reserved its verdict on petitions filed by the Sunni Itthad Council (SIC) — the party which was joined by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) affiliated independents candidates — seeking the allocation of reserved seats.

A five-member bench, chaired by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, conducted the hearing today.

The electoral body took up the plea after President Alvi 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.

In the previous hearing, CEC Raja consolidated all the petitions filed by SIC, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz's (PML-N).

MQM-P's Advocate Farogh Naseem, SIC's Barrister Ali Zafar, PPP's Advocate Farooq H Naek and PML-N's lawyer Azam Nazeer Tarar appeared before the five-member bench.

At the outset of the hearing, Barrister Zafar presented his arguments saying that 86 independents, who won the National Assembly seats, joined the SIC.

"A political party has the right to form a government and contest the elections and SIC is a political party which is registered and has an electoral symbol," said Zafar.

He said that SIC has the right to form a government if independent candidates join the party.

At this, a member of the commission said that SIC did not contest the February 8 polls.

Barrister Zafar then said that the independents will play an important role in the presidential elections, adding that it has been written in the Constitution who will get the reserved seat.

At this, the CEC assured that they would be allocated as per the Constitution.

Zafar said that a party can include independent candidates and become a parliamentary party.

At this point, CEC Raja said that they had a letter from the SIC which said that the party did not contest the polls and neither did it want the reserved seats.

Barrister Zafar said that the PTI did not know about the letter.

PPP's Naek said that the SIC has not submitted any priority list and the deadline has also passed away.

Later, PML-N's Tarar said that a political party must win a few seats to claim reserved seats, however, the SIC did not contest polls.

"A reserved seat can be nominated when it becomes vacant due to death, disqualification or resignation of a member," he added.

He said that the reserved seats cannot be given to independents as per the law.

MQM-P's lawyer Naseem said that SIC is not a parliamentary party, urging ECP to give the reserved seats to his party as per quota.

"The head of the SIC also contested the elections as an independent," he said.

After the competition of arguments, the ECP reserved the verdict.