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Saturday April 20, 2024

ECP hears SIC plea for reserved seats today

Citing the sections of the Elections Act 2017 and theConstitution, the MQMP leader has challenged the ‘locus standi’ of the SIC to qualify for the reserved seats

By Muhammad Saleh Zaafir & Our Correspondent
February 27, 2024
Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja presides over a meeting on the February 8 general elections on January 17, 2023. — INP
Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja presides over a meeting on the February 8 general elections on January 17, 2023. — INP

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has decided to conduct an open hearing today (Tuesday) of the matter of Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) request for allocation of reserved seats and other related pleas concerning the issue.

An ECP full five-member bench headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja would take up the related petitions for hearing here at the commission’s secretariat. The decision was taken here at an ECP meeting.

One Moulvi Iqbal Haider had filed a petition last week, seeking “restraining the political party SIC being treated as parliamentary party and from acceptance succeeded independent candidates who join the council as political party which is not a parliamentary party”.

The ECP would also hold hearing in the petition filed by Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui under Sections 3, 4, 8, 15 & 104 of the Elections Act 2017 read with Articles 51 & 218(3) of the Constitution along with all enabling provisions.

Citing the sections of the Elections Act 2017 and theConstitution, the MQMP leader has challenged the ‘locus standi’ of the SIC to qualify for the reserved seats.

Mehmood Ahmad Khan has filed a plea for the issuance of certified copies of alliance/ merger between Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and SIC and the affidavits submitted in favour of the SIC by the PTI supported independently elected members of national and provincial assemblies.

Representation is also fixed on behalf of Kanzus-Saadat Siddique, advocate to “safeguard the vested interest of the petitioner/ applicant” as she has filed nomination paper from PMLN for reserved seat from the Punjab in the National Assembly.

“It all depends on the way both sides present arguments and cover related legal and constitutional aspects,” said a senior official, when contacted for his comment on the matter.

He contended that the ECP might or might not be in a position to issue its judgement on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the ECP adjourned the hearing on a petition filed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) supremo Nawaz Sharif regarding NA-15 Mansehra constituency till today.

Both Nawaz’s lawyer Barrister Jahangir Jadoon and independent candidate Gustasab Khan’s lawyer Babar Awan appeared before the bench. Jadoon maintained that the returning officer’s report has not yet been given to them and that without reading the report, they could not give arguments.

To this, Babar Awan said that the report of RO was received by everyone, adding that Gustasab Khan won with a lead of 25,000 and according to the law, if there is a difference of 25,000, then the recount cannot be done. He said the ECP had stayed issuance of notification of the returned candidate.

In response, the CEC said, “We end the stay, give more time for arguments, we cannot extend the stay only for arguments, the Election Commission is of the view that the stay should end as soon as possible.”

He directed Jadoon to present arguments Tuesday. After the break, the ECP ordered all the parties to give documents. Raja said that an interim order will be issued on the request to end the stay, the stay cannot be postponed indefinitely.

HE told PMLN’s leader lawyer that sometimes he comes late, sometimes he says that the record was not found. In response, the lawyer said that he may be given the last chance to give final arguments.

He also said that the results of 125 polling stations were not included in Form 47, and in reply the CEC said that the RO has rejected the claim that the votes of 125 polling stations were not included in the report.

Advocate Babar Awan said that while compiling Form 47, no one went to the RO office. After hearing the arguments from both sides, the ECP adjourned the hearing and directed to give more arguments tomorrow (Tuesday).

Sources said that in case the SIC petition is accepted, the council would get 23 reserved seats in the National Assembly besides seats in the provincial assemblies.In case the SIC plea is discarded by the ECP, the reserved seats would be divided among the other existing parties in Parliament. The SIC would cease to work as parliamentary party/ group in the assemblies.