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Tuesday May 21, 2024

SHC seeks ECP, NA speaker’s comments on ex-PTI MNAs’ plea against by-polls

By our correspondents
March 03, 2023

The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Thursday issued notices to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), National Assembly speaker and others on a stay application filed by former Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MNAs from Karachi against the acceptance of their resignations by the speaker and by-elections announced on their seats.

Filing applications for urgent hearing and stay in by-elections in Karachi on March 16, PTI MNA Faheem Khan and eight others submitted that the ECP had announced by-elections in Karachi’s nine National Assembly constituencies on March 16, but the hearing of their petition was fixed for March 21.

Their lawyer submitted that the petition would become infructuous if the interim stay order was not granted in the interest of justice. He added that the Supreme Court during the hearing of cases of identical nature had already advised PTI lawmakers to return to the National Assembly.

He requested the high court to suspend the ECP’s notification with regard to de-notification of the petitioners as members of the National Assembly.

A division bench of the high court comprising Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M Sheikh and Justice Yousuf Ali Sayeed after a preliminary hearing of the application issued notices to the ECP and others for March 7.

The PTI MNAs had submitted in the petition that the notification for holding of by-elections on March 16 should be set aside and the seats of the PTI MNAs be restored as there was illegality in the acceptance of their resignations.

They submitted that the Lahore High Court had already stopped the decision of accepting the resignations of the PTI’s National Assembly members, and all their seats had been restored. The Lahore High Court also stayed the by-elections in the constituencies of such MNAs, they added.

The PTI’s counsel, Shahab Imam, submitted that the act of the National Assembly speaker with regard to acceptance of PTI lawmakers’ resignations was illegal. He said that there were a legal way of accepting resignations, and the NA speaker's malice was clear from his act of announcing a puppet opposition leader in the National Assembly.

He said the PTI had challenged the speaker’s notification at the ECP and high courts had rightly suspended the operation of holding of by-elections. The counsel submitted that the Constitution and Supreme Court had already elaborated the criteria with regard to resignation of the National Assembly members and unless such criteria was not met, the resignations could not be given effect under the Article 64 of the Constitution.

The SHC was requested to declare that the acceptance of the resignation of 35 PTI MNAs by the speaker was in violation of the Constitution and law settled by the Supreme Court, and suspend the operation of the ECP for holding by-elections in 35 constituencies in light of the Lahore High Court orders.

Zaidi’s media talk

Sindh Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) president and former federal minister Syed Ali Haider Zaidi has asked how National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf could accept resignations of his party’s MNAs as of April 11, 2022, when he was elected speaker on April 16, 2022.

He posed this question while addressing a press conference on Thursday with PTI Central Vice President Bilal Ghaffar and PTI spokesperson on economy & finance Muzzammil Aslam. Talking about the petition filed in the Sindh High Court by former Karachi PTI MNAs and the economic collapse of Pakistan, Zaidi said the Lahore High Court, the Islamabad High Court and the Balochistan High Court had suspended the by-elections for their respective jurisdictions.

Former Karachi PTI MNAs filed a request for an immediate hearing of their petition, which had been set for March 7, he said and hoped the SHC would follow the precedent set by other high courts and would suspend the resignations and the March 16 by-polls in Karachi.

Zaidi described the sinking of the rupee against the US dollar as an economic collapse and a “black day” for the economy of Pakistan. What has happened today was predicted by PTI Chairman Imran Khan and this is the reason he had sent then federal finance minister Shaukat Tareen to warn then COAS Gen Bajwa against any regime change adventure, he added. He pointed out that they are witnessing the destruction of the economy at “Shehbaz speed”.

Given the present economic conditions, Zaidi said that the PPP was likely to regret joining the PDM government, and the PPP should change its election symbol from “arrow” to “flying arrow”. He also lashed out at Federal Health Minister Abdul Qadir Patel and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari for their travelling expenses.

Zaidi alleged that Patel has spent the taxpayers’ money on travelling, while Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has recently visited his 50th country and claims he is paying from his pocket. “We’ll see if this is true once Bilawal files his tax and wealth returns.”