PESHAWAR: The suspected involvement of Baldev Kumar in the assassination of late MPA Sardar Soran Singh has not only put his own party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in a fix, but also the provincial election commission.
While according to rules and regulations, Kumar will occupy the seat that fell vacant due to Singh’s demise since his name was on top of the priority list. But the implication of the former in the murder of the latter has complicated the situation.
This turn of events is the first of its kind for the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly; that a successor has been suspected of killing the incumbent MPA. While the government is unwilling to accept Kumar as the replacement MPA, seemingly the Constitution gives it limited choice.
“Whatever the situation, we are determined to not allow an alleged assassin to occupy the seat of Singh,” Special Assistant to Chief Minister on Information and Higher Education Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani told The Express Tribune on Friday.
“We will approach the court after consulting our lawyers and if need be, will send a summary to amend the Constitution regarding the disqualification of the person who comes second on the priority list,” he added.
At the same time, election commission said unless the Constitution is amended, there is no alternative as Kumar has the right to fill the berth.
K-P Election Commission Deputy Director Khushal Zada told The Express Tribune, “Unless Kumar is declared a convict by court, he will remain an MPA since his name was the first on the priority list sent [earlier by the government].”
The government is left with only one option – move the court and get a stay order against filling the seat which can deprive non-Muslims of their representation.
Known constitution expert and senior lawyer Advocate Qazi Mohammad Anwar endorsed the point of view of the EC official and added filing a reference for Kumar’s de-seating is meaningless.
Anwar said when the speaker will write a letter about the vacant seat and Kumar will take the oath, a lot of confusion will arise.
“The government can hold elections for that seat, but as this is has never happened before, we can say it is a ‘test case’ -- let us see what the government does.”
According to Article 63-H, “A person shall be disqualified from being elected or chosen as, and from being, a member of the Parliament if he has been, on conviction for any offence involving moral turpitude, sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than two years, unless a period of five years has elapsed since his release.”
While the priority list may guarantee Kumar’s position, if he is convicted by the court or any amendment is brought about in the Constitution regarding it, Kumar will lose the favour.
Late MPA Singh, the special assistant on minorities to the chief minister, was shot dead in Pacha Kalay area of Peer Baba in Buner on Friday.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2016.