What is SIC reserved seats case?

Supreme Court to deliver much-anticipated verdict tomorrow

News Desk July 11, 2024
The Supreme Court of Pakistan. PHOTO: APP/FILE

The Supreme Court of Pakistan is scheduled to announce its verdict on the Sunni Ittehad Council's (SIC) reserved seats case tomorrow.

This decision comes after a consultative meeting led by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa on Thursday, which included all thirteen judges of the full court handling the case.

According to the cause list, a three-member regular bench, led by CJP Isa, will announce the short ruling at 9 am on Friday, July 12.

The verdict pertains to the SIC's plea challenging the Peshawar High Court's (PHC) decision, which upheld the Election Commission of Pakistan's (ECP) move to deny reserved seats in the assemblies to PTI-backed lawmakers.

The Supreme Court reserved its decision on Tuesday after nine hearings on the SIC's appeals. During these sessions, arguments were presented by all involved parties, including the federal government and the ECP, opposing the SIC's plea.

The issue of reserved seats arose following the February 8 elections, where over 80 independent candidates, backed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), emerged victorious and later joined the SIC.

Read: SC reserves verdict in SIC reserved seats case

These candidates sought to claim seats reserved for minorities and women. However, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) rejected this allocation, citing the SIC's failure to submit its list of candidates.

In response, the SIC approached the Peshawar High Court (PHC), which upheld the ECP's decision. Dissatisfied with this outcome, the SIC escalated the matter to the Supreme Court, seeking to overturn the PHC ruling and secure 67 reserved seats for women and 11 for minorities.

The allocation of these reserved seats is crucial as it significantly impacts the composition of the opposition benches. The PTI-backed SIC candidates lost 77 reserved seats in the National Assembly and provincial assemblies due to the PHC's verdict.

The PHC ruling allowed the ruling coalition, comprising the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and other allies, to gain a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly. This decision increased the PML-N's seats to 123 and the PPP's to 73, while the SIC held 82 seats.

A three-member Supreme Court bench, including Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Athar Minallah, and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, heard the SIC's appeal on June 6.

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The bench suspended the PHC's verdict and the ECP's decision, which temporarily deprived the ruling coalition of its two-thirds majority in the lower house. The federal government and the ECP have opposed the SIC's plea.

In its submission, the government, represented by Attorney General of Pakistan Mansoor Usman Awan, argued that reserved seats should only be allocated to political parties that contested the elections, won at least one seat, and submitted a candidate list by the stipulated deadline.

The ECP echoed this stance, highlighting the SIC's failure to meet the January 24 deadline for submitting its list of candidates.

The Supreme Court's ruling on this matter is highly anticipated, as it will determine the allocation of the contested reserved seats and potentially reshape the political landscape in the National Assembly and provincial legislatures.


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