Thursday June 13, 2024

After SC ruling, Punjab Assembly speaker suspends 27 lawmakers on reserved seats

Ruling PML-N's strength shrinks in provincial assembly as 23 party lawmakers face suspension today

By Azam Malik
May 10, 2024
Newly-elected members take oath at the provincial legislature of Punjab Assembly in Lahore on February 23, 2024. — AFP
Newly-elected members take oath at the provincial legislature of Punjab Assembly in Lahore on February 23, 2024. — AFP

The ruling alliance suffered a major blow in Punjab as 27 of its lawmakers on reserved seats were suspended by the provincial assembly's speaker on Friday in light of the Supreme Court's verdict earlier this week.

After reading out the top court's verdict in the provincial legislative assembly, Speaker Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan suspended the memberships of 27 lawmakers who had been allocated reserved seats for women and minorities.

Twenty-three out of 27 lawmakers belonged to the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) whose number of seats in the House has been reduced to 203.

Subsequently, two lawmakers of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) faced suspension, as well as one each from the Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party (IPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q).

The speaker suspended memberships on 24 reserved seats for women and the other three for minorities.

The suspended Members of the Provincial Assembly (MPAs) representing minorities in the Punjab Assembly include Tariq Masih Gul, Waseem Anjum and Basro Jee.

The suspended women MPAs include Maqsoodan Bibi, Robina Nazeer, Salma Zahid, Kanwal Noman, Zeba Ghafoor, Saeeda Samreen Taj, Sheher Bano, Amna Perveen, Syed Sumera Ahmed, Uzma Butt, Afshan Hussain, Shagufta Faisal, Nasreen Riaz, Sajida Naveed, Farzana Abbas, Maria Talal, Tasheen Fawad, Abida Bashir, Saadia Muzaffar, Faiza Momina, Amira Khan, Samiya Ata, Rahat Afza and Rukhsar Shafiq.

SC's verdict on reserved seats

Earlier this week, the apex court suspended the PHC's verdict on the reserved seat while accepting the Sunni Ittehad Council's (SIC) plea against the high court's ruling.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had rejected the party's plea depriving it of reserved seats.

A three-member bench headed by Justice Mansoor Ali Shah and comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Athar Minallah announced the verdict.

Barring the members, who have taken oath on the reserved seats, from casting their votes in legislation, the top court said that it would hear the case on a daily basis from June 3.

Furthermore, the court noted that the said issue only concerns the additional reserved seats allotted to the political parties later on.

Prior to the nullification, a five-member PHC bench, headed by Chief Justice Ibrahim Khan, and comprising Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim, Justice Ijaz Anwar, Justice Arshad Ali and Justice Shakeel Ahmad had rejected the SIC's petition against ECP's decision depriving it of reserved seats in March.

In response, the SIC had moved the apex court last month urging the top court to allot the party 67 women and 11 minority seats in the national and provincial assemblies and set aside the PHC ruling.