43 PTI MNAs de-notification orders suspended

News Desk
Thursday, Feb 09, 2023

Ag Agencies

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Wednesday suspended the Election Commission of Pakistan’s orders of de-notifying 43 Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MNAs and also stopped by-elections in those constituencies till further orders.

Justice Shahid Karim passed the orders on a petition filed by Riaz Fatyana and 42 other former lawmakers against acceptance of their resignations by

the Speaker National Assembly and subsequent action by the commission.

The court issued notices to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and other respondents and sought reply. During the proceedings, Barrister Ali Zafar represented the petitioners and pleaded with the court to set aside the orders of de-notifying his clients as the legal requirements had not been fulfilled for the purpose. The court questioned what requirements had not been fulfilled. The petitioners’ counsel submitted that, before accepting the resignations, the speaker did not hold inquiry as per Constitution.

He further submitted that the petitioners did not appear before the speaker for acceptance of their resignations. The speaker could not accept the resignations of members without hearing their stance, he contended.

The court, after hearing arguments of the petitioners’ counsel, suspended the orders of the commission and sought reply from respondents.

Last month, the ECP had de-notified the 43 MNAs on a summary forwarded by the speaker National Assembly. Speaker National Assembly Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, after accepting resignations of 43 MNAs, had forwarded the summary to the commission for further action, as per law.

PTI lawmakers had tendered resignations en masse after the Imran Khan-led government was ousted in a no-confidence motion in April last year. The PTI had claimed resignations were accepted by former deputy speaker Qasim Suri in absence of a speaker after Asad Qaiser’s resignation.

Speaker Ashraf, after his election, approved the resignations of 11 PTI lawmakers in July 2022. He had stalled the process stating the remaining lawmakers would be summoned individually for verification.

However, contrary to his stance, he quickened the process once the PTI in January announced its return to the assembly and “test” the PM through a confidence vote. The PTI resignations were accepted by NA Speaker Ashraf in four stages: 11 in the first phase, 35, 34, and 43 in the second, third, and fourth phases, respectively. The ECP has so far announced by-elections on 33, and 31 constituencies on March 16 and March 19, respectively. However, the by-polls on the 43 constituencies were yet to be announced.