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Saturday, July 13, 2024  
06 Muharram 1446  

Reserved seats case: CJP observes Imran Khan also influenced ECP as PM

CJP Isa wonders why PTI joined another party if it was still a political party
Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa speaks during the full court hearing of the Sunni Ittehad Council’s plea regarding allotment of reserved seats in national and provincial assemblies on June 24, 2024. Screengrab via YouTube/Supreme Court of Pakistan Live Proceedings
Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa speaks during the full court hearing of the Sunni Ittehad Council’s plea regarding allotment of reserved seats in national and provincial assemblies on June 24, 2024. Screengrab via YouTube/Supreme Court of Pakistan Live Proceedings

The Supreme Court adjourned the case of reserved seats till Tuesday (tomorrow) by 9:30am, with Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa observed at one point during the hearing that Imran Khan, as the prime minister, also influenced the country’s top electoral authority.

“Recall that time when we gave the election date. Who held elections? PTI tried to stop elections. Arif Alvi was the president then. Did we ask the PTI to not hold intra-party elections? The election commission [of Pakistan] urged the PTI to hold intra-party elections. At that time, PTI founder [Imran Khan] was the prime minister. He, as PM, was also influencing the election commission,” CJP Isa remarked.

On Monday, a full court resumed hearing a petition of the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), which now hosts PTI-backed elected candidates, against the denial of reserved seats in assemblies for women and minorities.

The full bench, comprising CJP Isa, Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Aminuddin Khan, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Ayesha Malik, Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi, Justice Shahid Waheed, Justice Irfan Saadat Khan, and Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan, heard the case.

The proceedings were broadcast live on the SC’s website and its YouTube channel.

Members of Imran Khan’s political party, the PTI, were forced to run as independent candidates in the February general elections after the SC ruled that the party’s internal elections were flawed. As a result, the PTI candidates were not allowed to use the party’s cricket bat symbol during the campaign.

Despite running as independents, the PTI-backed candidates won the most seats in the National Assembly. To secure the reserved seats, they joined the religiopolitical party, the SIC.

The reserved seats are allocated to different political parties in proportion to the number of general seats each party wins during elections. This is done to promote greater political representation and inclusion of these traditionally underrepresented groups in the government.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) decided not to allocate the reserved seats to them on “technical grounds” and distributed the SIC’s share among other parties.

The outcome of the case can be politically significant, there are possibilities that it may impact the National Assembly composition. Khan’s party is hopeful of winning 78 reserved seats in Parliament given to the rival parties in elections.

Read more

Reserved seats: CJP says all problems could have been solved if intra-party elections were held

People voted for a party’s candidates, not independents: Justice Mandokhail

List of lawmakers suspended following SC decision on reserved seats

In a letter to the apex court on Saturday, the country’s top electoral authority reiterated that the SIC was ineligible 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 ECP noted that non-Muslims cannot be SIC members under the party’s constitution.

Hearing

Faisal Siddiqui, a senior counsel representing the SIC, appeared in the court and began presented his arguments.

The definition of a “political party” in a relevant provision and its main provision ought to be the same, he said. CJP Isa said that the apex court was concerned with what the Constitution stated rather than how the ECP interpreted it.

“Can a political party which has not won or secured any seats in the general elections be entitled to reserved seats simply because they secured general seats as a result of independents joining them after the elections?” Siddiqui asked

He asserted that the words “won” and “secured” were of great importance and the answer to the above lied in how they were interpreted.

Justice Mandokhail wondered if a party that did not bother to contest the elections should be given reserved seats rather than those that did.

Siddiqui replied that the allocation of reserved seats was not dependent on a party’s performance in the general elections but on the “basis of general seats in the assembly”.

Justice Minallah noted that the ECP had “confused the entire matter” by declaring that the PTI was no more a political party as its symbol was taken away but “yet they recognised it as an enlisted political party”.

“PTI continued to exist [as a political party] after the decision, continues to exist today […] then why did these independents not join PTI? Simple,” CJP Isa said.

“Didn’t you (PTI) commit suicide yourself?” the chief justice said while addressing Siddiqui, apparently referring to the PTI. “You could have simply said we want to join PTI. End of story.”

Another member of the bench, Justice Munib Akhtar, stated that candidates who were elected as independents were actually members of Imran Khan’s party. They were forced to run as independents due to a series of legal errors made by ECP.

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Supreme Court

Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf

reserved seats

Sunni Ittehad Council