LHC orders ECP to notify PTI members of reserved seats in the Punjab Assembly

The Lahore High Court (LHC) directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday to notify PTI members of five reserved seats in the Punjab Assembly (PA) that became vacant following the defection of 25 PTI MPs.

Last month, 25 PTI dissident MPs were de-seated for voting for PML-Hamza N’s Shehbaz in the Punjab chief minister’s election, including five elected on seats allocated for women and minorities. The ECP officially de-notified them on May 23.

On May 28, the PTI petitioned the LHC, seeking that it direct the election watchdog to notify the five new MPAs and “summon [them] directly.” As a result, the high court set a June 2 deadline for the ECP to rule on the case.

The commission, however, opted to postpone the notification until the province’s by-elections on July 17.

Arguments presented in the case today

During today’s open court session, Ali Zafar, the PTI’s lawyer, contended that the electoral authority was obligated to notify PTI members on reserved seats after de-seating defecting parliamentarians.

“Political parties’ lists are not subject to alteration,” he stated. However, he said that when the PTI sought the commission to alert its members about the five reserved seats, the ECP claimed that the de-seating of 20 members had modified the overall number of seats for each party.

The lawyer stated that the commission’s stance was “illegal.”

According to Punjab Advocate General Shahzad Shaukat, elections for reserved seats were meant to take place following the general elections.

“Because of the 20 vacant seats, the parties’ positions have shifted. Therefore, I feel a larger bench should hear the case, “He continued.

As a result, the LHC halted the ECP’s notification and ruled it “null and void.”

Petition of the PTI

According to Article 104 (5) of the Election Act, 2017, “Where a seat reserved for women or non-Muslims in an Assembly falls vacant as a result of the death, resignation, or disqualification of a member, it shall be filled in by the next person in order of precedence from the party’s list of candidates submitted to the Commission,” according to Zainab Umair, wife of PTI MPA Umair Khan Niazi’s petition filed on June 3.

According to the appeal, no by-elections for disqualified Punjab Assembly members were required for those mentioned above (reserved) seats. “Because the party list was already in ECP’s possession, it was necessary for ECP to give notifications to the declared/elected MPAs for the 5 Reserve Seats.”

According to Zainab, the ECP judgment “clearly exposes its bias and prejudice towards the petitioner (PTI) and the benefits ECP is insistent on offering to the PML-N.”

“Its order is an erroneous assumption of jurisdiction because the ECP lacks the capacity or authority to interpret the Constitution as vested in Pakistan’s Honourable Courts,” she added.

The ECP removes dissident MPAs.

The votes of the 25 PTI dissidents were crucial in Hamza’s victory in the election for the chief minister; he earned 197 votes, while a simple majority of 186 votes is required.

Raja Sagheer Ahmed, Malik Ghulam Rasool Sangha, Saeed Akbar Khan, Mohammad Ajmal, Abdul Aleem Khan, Nazir Ahmed Chohan, Mohammad Amin Zulqernain, Nazir Ahmed Khan, Fida Hussain, Zahra Batool, Mohammad Tahir, Aisha Nawaz, Sajida Yousaf, Haroon Imran Gill, Uzma

On May 20, the electoral watchdog issued an order de-seating these lawmakers, claiming that they had defected from the party in violation of Article 63-A of the Constitution, which prohibits lawmakers from voting against the party line in elections for prime minister and chief minister, votes of confidence or no-confidence, Constitution amendment bills, and money bills.