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Wednesday, July 17, 2024  
10 Muharram 1446  

In reply to SC, ECP says SIC ineligible for reserved seats as non-Muslims can’t join it

Cites religiopolitical party, which is new home of PTI MNAs, ineligible for reserved seats
A man uses his mobile phone as he walks past the Supreme Court of Pakistan building in Islamabad, Pakistan May 13, 2023. Reuters
A man uses his mobile phone as he walks past the Supreme Court of Pakistan building in Islamabad, Pakistan May 13, 2023. Reuters

The Sunni Ittehad Council—the new home of PTI elected lawmakers—was ineligible for reserved seats since non-Muslims cannot be religiopolitical party members, the country’s top electoral authority said on Saturday.

In response to the Supreme Court in the reserved seats case, the Election Commission of Pakistan said that the SIC cannot be given reserved seats.

In mid-February, the PTI-backed independent candidates joined the SIC to secure reserved seats after the Supreme Court stripped the party of its iconic symbol before elections.

There are 70 reserved seats in the National Assembly and 210 seats in the whole country which are only allotted to the political parties.

The deadline for submitting the list of reserved seats was January 24, but the SIC did not submit the list for reserved seats, the ECP said.

It went on to add that candidates were asked to provide a certificate of the PTI-Nazriati electoral symbol, but later they withdrew from the symbol. After this, they were declared independent candidates.

According to the ECP, such candidates joined the SIC after the general elections while mentioning that the Peshawar High Court upheld the commission’s decision not to give the SIC the reserved seats on the party’s appeal.

It reiterated that the SIC was not eligible for the reserved seats and there was “no flaw” in the ECP’s and PHC’s decisions as it was “under the Constitution and law.”

The SIC’s constitution does not allow a non-Muslim to be its member, it added.

On Friday, the SC announced a 13-member full bench to hear the reserved seats case. The full bench, headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, would hear the case on June 24 and 25.

Earlier this month, CJP Isa had observed that all of such issues could have been avoided if the PTI had held its intra-party elections. Justice Muneeb had remarked that ECP’s decision to take away the bat symbol had set forth a “cascading” series of errors.

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