Reserved seats case: SC Judge observes public casted vote for PTI-backed nominees, not individuals

Full court hearing held; ECP counsel summoned to clarify number of additionally allocated reserved seats in NA

News Desk June 03, 2024


A full bench of the Supreme Court (SC) is currently hearing the Sunni Ittehad Council’s (SIC) petition against the denial of reserved National Assembly (NA) seats for women and minorities.

The apex court constituted a full court to hear the case concerning seats reserved for women and minorities, brought forward by the SIC.

The bench included all judges except Justice Musarrat Hilali.

The 13-member bench, comprising Justices Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Munib Akhtar, Yahya Afridi, Aminuddin Khan, Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Ayesha Malik, Athar Minallah, Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi, Shahid Waheed, Irfan Saadat Khan, and Naeem Akhtar Afghan, resumed the hearing today.

The hearing

As the hearing commenced, the SIC's lawyers approached the rostrum, with Siddiqi reading out the May 6 order. He argued that assigning reserved seats to other parties violated specific articles of the Constitution. Siddiqi referenced an ECP letter to support the SIC's entitlement to reserved seats in the National Assembly.

CJP Isa then asked Siddiqi for details on the beneficiaries and a breakdown of the additional seats allocated to ruling coalition parties. Siddiqi noted discrepancies in the numbers provided by the electoral watchdog. Justice Isa further inquired about the party-wise allocation of these additional seats, which Siddiqi provided along with details for provincial assemblies.

The ECP counsel was summoned to clarify the number of additionally allocated reserved seats for women in the NA, confirming 23 seats. Siddiqi also presented the number of general seats won by each party in the recent elections, emphasizing the SIC's status as a parliamentary party.

Questions arose regarding the candidates' affiliations during the nomination process, and whether they were considered independent despite their party ties. Siddiqi explained that the candidates were instructed by the ECP to contest as independents.

CJP Isa asked if any beneficiary parties were supporting the SIC, to which Siddiqi responded with a smile. Opposing counsels from several parties then presented their stance to the court.

When asked about the SIC's registration as a political party, Siddiqi affirmed the ECP's recognition without dispute. The discussion continued on the PTI's status after losing its electoral symbol, with questions raised about its rights under election laws.

Justice Minallah queried if the PTI was an enlisted party of the ECP, suggesting that this clarification would address the main question at hand.

SC overturns PHC order

On May 6, a three-member top court bench overturned the Peshawar High Court's (PHC) decision, which had refused to allocate reserved seats to SIC, now serving as a political refuge for PTI lawmakers-elect.

Later that month, the PPP, which along with the PML-N had benefited from the Election Commission of Pakistan's (ECP) March 4 decision to distribute the seats among various parliamentary parties, appointed senior counsel Farooq H. Naek to represent them in the case.

Following the Supreme Court's May 6 decision, the ECP on May 14 suspended the victory notifications of 77 lawmakers allocated reserved seats, affecting the ruling coalition’s two-thirds majority in the National Assembly.

Advocates Salman Akram Raja appeared for SIC, while Faisal Siddiqi represented the party’s female candidates who were denied the reserved seats.

At the start of the hearing, SIC’s counsels addressed the court, with Siddiqi reading aloud the May 6 order.

The lawyer referenced an ECP letter dated April 24, stating that SIC, having 82 general seats in the National Assembly, was entitled to reserved seats.


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