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Wednesday, July 17, 2024  
11 Muharram 1446  

ECP says it won’t allocate reserved seats to Sunni Ittehad Council

Rejects religio-political party’s plea seeking allocation of reserved seats in national and provincial assemblies
Election Commission rejects Sunni Ittehad Council’s request for specific seats - Breaking - Aaj News

The Election Commission of Pakistan has stated that it will not allocate seats fixed for women and minorities in assemblies to the Sunni Ittehad Council as the religious political party is not entitled to reserved seats.

On Monday, the ECP rejected the SIC’s petition seeking the allocation of reserved seats in the national and provincial assemblies, a major blow to the religio-political party which is now home to PTI backed candidates who won elections.

“The seats in the National Assembly shall not remain vacant and will be allotted by proportional representation process of political parties on the basis of seats won by political parties,” the 22-page order said.

A five-member ECP bench led by Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja had heard the case in which lawyers from major political parties presented their arguments.

In its 4-1 verdict, the country’s top electoral authority said that the SIC was not entitled to reserved seats and decided not to allot seats to the party. The ECP also decided to allot the remaining seats to other political parties.

ECP Member from Punjab Babar Hasan Barwana has written a dissenting note to the decision.

The decision from the five-member ECP bench hearing the case was due today. The commission reserved its verdict on Wednesday, a day before the maiden session of the National Assembly.

“SIC is not entitled to claim for the quota for reserved seats for women and non-Muslims due to having non curable legal defects and violation of mandatory provision of submission of party list for reserved seats which is the requirement of law.”

Dissenting note

Babar Hassan Bharwana, the ECP member from Punjab, stated that he partially dissented from the majority verdict.

He agreed with the decision that the SIC was not entitled to the reserved seats as it did not submit priority lists on time.

But Bharwana disagreed with the decision to give the remaining reserved seats to other political parties. He demanded that such seats should not allotted to other parties until an amendment to the Constitution.

PTI to challenge ECP verdict in SC; demands resignation from ECP

PTI leader Barrister Ali Zafar has announced that his party would challenged the 4-1 verdict of the ECP in the Supreme Court.

“We have decided on the floor of Senate that we will challenge this ECP order and will take all the legal ways against the decision,” Zafar said in his speech at the upper house of Parliament.

“Constitutionally, the ECP cannot run its proceedings and all of them have to resign from their positions. Moreover, we also demand that the presidential and Senate elections should be postponed and adjourned because there is no space in the Constitution both of the elections are held with the [allocation of] reserved seats.”

In his speech, Zafar read out the Section 6(d) of the Article 51.

“For the purpose of election to the National Assembly,- members to the seats reserved for women which are allocated to a Province under clause (3) shall be elected in accordance with law through proportional representation system of political parties’ lists of candidates on the basis of total number of general seats secured by each political party from the Province concerned in the National Assembly:

Provided that for the purpose of this sub-clause the total number of general seats won by a political party shall include the independent returned candidate or candidates who may duly join such political party within three days of the publication in the official Gazette of the names of the returned candidates;“

The PTI leader also spoke about the Supreme Court verdict before elections that stripped the party of its iconic symbol: the bat. He described it as “unconstitutional and illegal”.

He claimed that more than 180 independent candidates backed by the party won elections, however, the tally fell to 92 after the ECP issued the results.

Zafar explained that the winning candidates joined the SIC so that they could have reserved seats and such members could have a chance to vote in elections for the prime minister, president, and senate.

According to him, the electoral body was supposed to give 23 seats under Article 51(6)(d). But the ECP denied the party of such seats. He added that the party had informed the ECP that it could not keep the seats vacant as the assemblies would not be complete without it.

When he shared the ECP’s decision to allocate such seats to other political parties, lawmakers from treasury benches started chanting “shame shame”.

Zafar cited that if it was true that their share was given to other parties then it would be a “second constitutional mistake” by the ECP after nullifying its intra-party polls.

He further quoted articles 218 and 219 that demand the ECP to hold free and fair polls. But Monday’s verdict proved that the ECP has failed and violated the Constitution in abiding by such rules, he added.

“Article 6 should be imposed on them [ECP],” he said and demanded all the members of the ECP should step down from their positions. He shared that lawmakers from the PTI has readied the resolution with such a demand.

“They cannot even stand for a minute at that post after this unconstitutional and illegal decision. It won’t be bearable,” Zafar said and added that the party would not accept elections for the president and Senate after the decision.

He called for a final decision, adding that until the Supreme Court of Pakistan gives a decision on that. “We will approach courts to challenge it. Until Supreme Court of Pakistan decides that to whom reserved seats will be allotted then the presidential elections and Senate elections cannot be held in Pakistan.”

Zafar said that the party has decided to challenge the ECP decision and opt for the legal way and the ECP cannot run its affairs.

He further demanded that Senate and presidential elections should be adjourned as nowhere in the Constitution it was mentioned that the elections were held without reserved seats. “If held then whatever the decision from the SC then the whole process will be reversed.”

Demand for reserved seats

The ECP had announced its decision on allocating reserved seats in the National Assembly, except those for the SIC. But the commission has not allotted the 23 reserved seats to any other political party.

According to the party position, the six-party ruling alliance does not have a two-thirds majority to bring any constitutional amendment. But if the ECP allotted the reserved seats due for the SIC to other political parties then the ruling alliance will have the desired number in the National Assembly.

The SIC approached the ECP on February 21 seeking the allotment of reserved seats.

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Sunni Ittehad Council

Babar Hassan Bharwana