Monday Jun 27 2022

LHC directs ECP to notify lawmakers on reserved seats of Punjab Assembly

Lahore High Court building. — Facebook
Lahore High Court building. — Facebook

  • PTI had approached LHC against ECP's decision deferring issuance of notification on reserved assembly seats.
  • PTI’s counsel Ali Zafar welcomes decision, termimg it a “game-changer”.
  • After LHC order, five reserved seats will be allocated to the PTI which will increase their number.

The Lahore High Court (LHC) Monday directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to notify the members on the Punjab Assembly's reserved seats after accepting a plea registered by the PTI.

The PTI had approached the LHC against the ECP’s decision deferring the issuance of a notification on the reserved assembly seats till the by-elections on 20 vacant seats.

The decision was announced by the LHC today after hearing all arguments of relevant stakeholders.

Speaking to the media, PTI’s counsel Ali Zafar welcomed the decision and termed it a “game-changer”.

After the LHC order, five reserved seats will be allocated to the PTI which will increase their number in the provincial legislature.

The party positions in Punjab Assembly:

The Punjab assembly has a total of 371 members, of which, at the moment, 20 seats are vacant and are up for re-polling on July 17.

This brings the total number of MPAs in the Punjab assembly down to 351.

The ruling PML-N has the majority of 165 members. However, four of its MPAs had previously rebelled against the party leadership, of which two are still undecided about staying with the PML-N. This leaves the PML-N with only 163 MPAs.

On the other side is the opposition, therefore the PTI, which is 158 MPAs strong at the moment. But if allotted the five reserved seats after the orders of the LHC, the PTI will also bring up its numbers to 163.

In the House, are also five independents, of which Chaudhry Nisar, the former interior minister, is unlikely to vote. While the PPP has 7 MPAs, PML-Q has 10 and the Rah-e-Haq party has one.

The petition

The PTI had filed an appeal in the LHC, challenging the ECP verdict on notifying new MPAs on five reserved seats of the Punjab Assembly after they fell vacant following the de-seating of 25 dissident PTI lawmakers.

Last month, 25 PTI dissident lawmakers, which included five elected on seats reserved for women and minorities, were de-seated for voting in favour of PML-N's Hamza Shehbaz in the Punjab chief minister's election. They were officially de-notified by the ECP on May 23.

Subsequently, the PTI had filed a petition in the LHC requesting it to direct the ECP to notify the five new MPAs and "summon [them] personally" after which the high court had given the ECP a deadline to decide on the matter.

“ECP is bound to issue notification under Section 6 of Article 224 of the Constitution,” read the petition. The petitioner had pleaded with the court to suspend the ECP’s verdict and order to notify new MPAs on the five reserved seats, recommended by the PTI.

In its verdict announced on June 2, the electoral watchdog had stayed the notification until the by-polls on the 20 general seats scheduled for July 17, saying that the general seats of the PA had been reduced.

ECP de-notifies 25 PTI MPAs de-seated over defection

The ECP de-notified the 25 PTI MPAs on May 23 that it had de-seated over defection from the party.

The decision to de-seat the 25 PTI dissidents came during the announcement of the verdict in a case pertaining to the dissident members of the Punjab Assembly (MPAs).

The ECP issued official notifications for the cancellation of the dissidents' election from respective constituencies of Punjab and Punjab Assembly seats reserved for women and non-Muslims.

"Pursuant to the Order dated the 20" May 2022 passed by the Election Commission of Pakistan in case No. 13(1)/2022-Law, upon confirmation of the declarations under Article 63A(1)(b)(i) of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Election Commission of Pakistan hereby de-notify the following member's Provincial Assembly of Punjab from the respective Constituencies, seats reserved for women, and non-Muslims in terms of Article 63A(4) of the Constitution," the notifications read.

As many as 20 out of 25 dissidents were elected from different constituencies, three were elected on seats reserved for women and two were elected on seats reserved for non-Muslims.

The members de-seated from different constituencies were:

  • Raja Sagheer Ahmed
  • Malik Ghulam Rasool Sangha
  • Saeed Akbar Khan
  • Muhammad Ajmal
  • Faisal Hayat
  • Mehar Muhammad Aslam
  • Mian Khalid Mehmood
  • Abdul Aleem Khan
  • Nazir Ahmad Chohan
  • Malik Asad Ali
  • Muhammad Amin Zulqrnain
  • Malik Nauman Ahmad Langrial
  • Muhammad Salman
  • Zawar Hussain Warraich
  • Nazir Anmad Khan
  • Zahara Batool
  • Muhammad Sabtain Raza
  • Muhammad Tahir
  • Mohsin Atta Khan Khosa

The members de-seated from reserved seats for women were:

  • Uzma Kardar
  • Aisha Nawaz
  • Sajida Yousaf

The members de-seated from reserved seats for non-Muslims were:

  • Ijaz Masih
  • Haroon Imran Gill