KP Assembly speaker files review petition in PHC on reserved seats verdict

By
Daniyal Aziz
A view of the Peshawar High Court. — Geo.tv/Daniyal Aziz
A view of the Peshawar High Court. — Geo.tv/Daniyal Aziz
  • Speaker Swati files writ petition via Ali Azim Afridi.
  • No requisition received by speaker for session, plea states.
  • Swati says preparations for Senate polls complete.

PESHAWAR: On the eve of the Senate elections,  Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Assembly Speaker Babar Saleem Swati on Monday filed a review plea in the Peshawar High Court (PHC) over the direction issued by the court to administer the oath to the lawmakers elected on reserved seats.

The writ petition, submitted by Speaker Swati through Advocate Ali Azim Afridi, stresses that no requisition was received by him regarding the summoning of the session.

"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," the plea argues citing the court's judgement in the Baldive Kumar’s case.

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 cannot be deprived of the fundamental right to vote.

The electoral body further said that 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 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa till the administration of oath to members," the ECP said in its seven-page verdict.