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Wednesday April 17, 2024

Review petition over oath-taking verdict on reserved seats filed in PHC

KP Assembly speaker's plea underscores absence of any requisition over summoning of assembly session

By Danyal Aziz
April 01, 2024
The Peshawar High Court building. — PHC website/File
The Peshawar High Court building. — PHC website/File

PESHAWAR: With the Senate elections less than 24 hours away, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Assembly Speaker Babar Saleem Swati Monday moved the Peshawar High Court (PHC) by submitting a review petition over its earlier decision ordering him to administer the oath to the MPAs elected on reserved seats.

"The elected person has to be administered oath before the provincial assembly within the meaning of Article 65 of the Constitution, which is only possible when an assembly session is summoned or requisitioned," reads the plea citing the court's verdict in the Baldive Kumar’s case.

However, Swati's petition filed via Advocate Ali Azim Afridi contends that no requisition has been received by the speaker with regards to the summoning of the KP Assembly session.

Meanwhile, expressing his views on the issue, KP Assembly Speaker Swati said that he was advised by his legal team and law department that the governor does not have the authority to summon a session — as he did so earlier this month on the opposition's request.

"We believe in the rule of law," he said while speaking to the media in Peshawar.

On the upcoming Senate polls, slated for April 2 (tomorrow), Swati said that the assembly secretariat has finalised the preparations for Tuesday's elections wherein the assembly hall has been declared as the polling station.

The development comes as, last week, a two-member PHC bench comprising Justice Attique Shah and Justice Shakeel Ahmad — in response to the petition filed by the opposition parties in the provincial assembly — ordered the swearing-in of the members elected on reserved seats.

Oath-taking on reserved seats in KP has been subject to controversy owing to the deadlock between the provincial government and opposition parties.

The issue has become crucial for both the ruling and opposition parties as it will play an important role in the Senate polls slated for April 2 (tomorrow) for filling 11 seats from the province.

However, owing to the continuing ambiguity surrounding the oath-taking on reserved seats, the ECP, last week, signalled to postpone the Senate election stressing that no voter can be deprived of the fundamental right to vote.

The electoral body further said it has ample power to issue such directions and make such consequential orders to ensure that election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law.

"The Commission may in addition to any other action [and] extend the time for completion of the Senate election to the extent of the province of KP till the administration of oath to members," the ECP said in its seven-page verdict.