LHC bars by-polls on 43 PTI MNAs’ seats

Suspends speaker’s acceptance of their resignations and ECP order de-notifying them

Rana Yasif February 08, 2023


The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday suspended the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) order de-notifying 43 PTI MNAs and restrained the polls supervisory body from holding by-polls in those constituencies.

The court also suspended National Assembly speaker’s notification under which the resignations of the former ruling party’s lawmakers were accepted and issued notices to the quarters concerned seeking their replies.

LHC’s Justice Shahid Karim heard a petition filed by 43 PTI MNAs, requesting the court to set aside two notifications – one, whereby the NA speaker accepted their resignations and the other, whereby ECP de-notified them.

Petitioners’ counsel Barrister Ali Zafar argued that the PTI lawmakers had (already) withdrawn their resignations before the NA speaker accepted them.

Read PTI moves court against postings, transfers

Under such a situation, how the speaker can accept the resignations? he questioned.

Barrister Zafar contended that the acceptance of resignations without applying a legal framework was tantamount to making “mockery” of the rules set by the Supreme Court which proved “mala fide” on the part of the speaker.

The speaker did not bother to summon the MNAs individually to know their stance that whether or not they were willingly to tender their resignations, he argued.

The counsel maintained that the speaker had initially stated that he would call the lawmakers in the individual capacity but later deviated from this position.

He said the political objective of submitting collective resignations by the 123 MNAs, including the petitioners, was to arrive at an agreement with the opposition parties for holding fresh elections and formation of new government with the “real” mandate of people and relieve the nation of the current impasse.

Barrister Zafar contended that the then acting speaker (National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri) had accepted the resignations but the new speaker had reversed the ruling with a direction to the secretariat to resubmit them for verification in accordance with the judgments of superior courts.

The speaker decided to hold inquiry and verify each resignation by calling each MNA individually to confirm whether they were willing and ready to resign, he said.

The counsel argued that the resignations were not accepted as the lawmakers had not appeared before the speaker for verification despite the fact that they were called for the purpose.

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Later, neither the MNAs went to the speaker nor were they called for verification of their resignations, and the status quo continued, he said, adding that the original resignations hence became redundant as far as petitioners were concerned.

Barrister Zafar held forth that the resignations were never notified or formally accepted by the National Assembly, noting that after the change of regime, the speaker announced that the process for verification would be undertaken afresh.

Later, the speaker in violation of law and his own ruling accepted some resignations, the counsel continued.

On July 28, the NA speaker had accepted the resignations of only 11 PTI MNAs.

The former ruling party then moved the Islamabad High Court contending that the decision of acting speaker (Qasim Suri) to accept resignations of 123 lawmakers was valid while that of the present speaker to reverse the resignations was wrong.

However, the IHC decided that the then deputy speaker’s notification without following the principles of Syed Zafar Ali Shah’s case was in violation of the Constitution.

It observed that the process initiated by the present speaker to call each MNA individually to verify the genuineness of the resignation was in consonance with the Constitution.

The counsel noted that the order of the court to call each MNA individually for verification purpose was binding on the speaker, adding that the procedure was not adopted.

Later, 10 MNAs including lawmakers on reserved women seats filed a writ petition in the IHC, arguing that their resignations were not accepted as per the decision of IHC according to which they were to be called for verification of their resignations.

However, this plea is still pending in Islamabad High Court, the counsel said.

The court was told that later the speaker accepted resignations of 35 MNAs which was followed by 35 more.

The lawmakers went to meet the speaker but were not given audience. They also staged a sit-in on the Ministers Enclave but to no avail.

It was shocking for the MNAs that the speaker had accepted 43 more resignations, the counsel said, adding that the acceptance of resignations by the speaker without calling any lawmaker in individual capacity for verification purpose continued since that day.

The lawyer maintained that the actions of the speaker and the ECP were illegal and unlawful.

The petitioners requested the court to declare that they had withdrawn their resignations by conduct, words and in writing in accordance with the law prior to any acceptance thereof.

The counsel requested the court to set aside the notifications issued till now by the speaker maintaining that he could not issue any notification after the withdrawal of resignations.


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