After SC order, ECP suspends lawmakers elected on reserved seats denied to SIC

SC last week suspended PHC's verdict on reserved seat while accepting SIC's plea against high court's ruling

Nausheen Yusuf
Security personnel stand outside the ECP office in Islamabad. — AFP/File

  • ECP notification comes after SC suspended PHC's verdict last week.
  • ECP in total has de-notified 77 lawmakers elected on reserved seats.
  • SC will resume hearing the case on a daily basis from June 3.

ISLAMABAD: After the Supreme Court order on Sunni Ittehad Council's (SIC) petition regarding reserved seats, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Monday suspended 77 lawmakers elected on seats denied to the party.

The issue of reserved seats had been a point of contention between the SIC, which primarily comprises Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-backed independent candidates, and the ruling parties notably Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), and others.

Dozens of members of the PPP, PML-N, MQM-P, JUI-F and others had taken oath on reserved seats in different assemblies across the country following the PHC's verdict.

The ruling PML-N is the biggest loser as 44 of its members have been suspended while 15 lawmakers from PPP, 13 from Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) and one each from MQM-P, Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party, and Awami National Party, Pakistan Muslim League and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Parliamentarians.

Following the top court’s order, the ECP today withdrew the notification of 22 returned candidates who were allotted seats in the National Assembly. Out of the 22, 11 of them are female lawmakers given seats in the NA from Punjab, 8 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 3 minority seats in the lower house.

On the other hand, in KP Assembly 21 lawmakers on reserved seats for women and 4 for minorities have been de-notified.

In the Punjab Assembly, 24 women lawmakers and 3 non-Muslim legislators have been de-notified. While in the Sindh Assembly, the commission de-notified 2 female MPs and a minority member.

All the lawmakers that have been de-notified belong to the PML-N, PPP, MQM-P, JUI-F, Awami National Party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-Parlimentarians (PTI-P), Pakistan Muslim-League-Quaid (PML-Q) and lstehkam-e-Pakistan Party (IPP).

Supreme Court order

Last week, the apex court suspended the Peshawar High Court's (PHC) verdict on reserved seats while accepting the SIC’s plea against the high court's ruling.

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

"[We are accepting the [SIC's] pleas [against the PHC verdict], Justice Mansoor Ali Shah stated, and asked under what law [reserved] seats were allocated to other parties.

A three-member bench headed by Justice Shah and comprising Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Athar Minallah heard the SIC's plea filed through Advocate Faisal Siddiqui last month.

Barring the members, who have taken oath on the reserved seats, from casting their votes in legislation, the SC said that it will 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.

The case

In March, a five-member PHC bench, headed by then 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.

ECP had ruled that the SIC was not eligible for reserved seats allotted to women and minorities "due to non-curable procedural and legal defects and violations of mandatory provisions of the Constitution".

While rejecting the plea of SIC, the ECP accepted applications of the opposing parties and decided that the seats in the National Assembly would not remain vacant and be allocated by a proportional representation process of political parties on the basis of seats won by political parties.

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

The SIC's plea contends that reserved seats for women and minorities are given to the parties in the national and provincial assemblies on the basis of proportional representation and no party can be given more reserved seats than its representation.