ECP reserves verdict in case related to allocation of reserve seats to SIC

ECP reserves verdict in case related to allocation of reserve seats to SIC

Islamabad (Web Desk): The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday reserved its verdict on petitions related to minority and women reserve seats of Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC).

A five-member bench, chaired by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja, conducted the hearing.

The electoral body took up the plea after President Alvi refused to sign a Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs summary seeking the convening of a National Assembly session.

PTI leader Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, lawyer Ali Zafar, and SIC Chairman Sahibzada Hamid Raza appeared before the electoral watchdog.

The most PTI-aligned independent lawmakers have taken refuge after the PTI lost its electoral symbol in the run-up to the February 8 elections.

During the hearing today, PTI’s Barrister Ali Zafar and Barrister Gohar presented their arguments before the ECP.

Zafar contended that the Constitution clearly stated that independent MNAs could join any political party.

“The Constitution mentions a political party, not a parliamentary party,” he argued, adding that not allocating reserved seats to the SIC would affect the elections of Senate, prime minister, president, NA speaker and deputy speaker alike.

Meanwhile, the ECP noted that it was important to submit the list of candidates for reserved seats before the elections, which the SIC had not done.

CEC Sikandar Sultan Raja also shared a letter by the SIC with PTI counsel Ali Zafar stating that the party did not contest the general elections, and hence, does not want the reserve seats.

Barrister Ali Zafar said the party did not inform PTI about any such letter and expressed ignorance of the matter. "If the SIC does not want the reserve seats, why are you forcing them," asked the CEC.

Later, speaking to media, Barrister Ali Zafar said that the ECP reserved the verdict on the allocation of reserved seats for SIC, which has allied with the PTI in the Centre, KP and Punjab.

Zafar said he hoped a decision would be taken as per the law and Constitution.

“But if our seats are distributed among the PML-N and PPP […] then we will definitely approach the Supreme Court but it would be such a huge violation that it will make the election of prime minister, president, Senate, NA speaker and deputy speaker will become controversial and will hold no legitimacy,” he added.

It is pertinent to mention that the number of reserved seats in NA is 70 including 60 for women and 10 for non-Muslims. The ECP has notified 38 out of 60 women seats in PA and the electoral body’s decision whether to allot the remaining 22 seats to SIC remains pending.

Likewise, 7 out of 10 non-Muslim seats in NA have been allotted and the ECP decision on remaining three seats to SIC candidates is pending.