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Depriving a political party of symbol main reason behind series of legal mistakes: Justice Munib

ISLAMABAD – Hearing the Sunni Ittehad Council’s appeal for reserved seats, the Supreme Court on Tuesday stated that depriving a political party of its election symbol became the root cause of a series of errors.

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

Advocate Faisal Siddiqui, representing the SIC’s female candidates who were denied reserved seats, resumed his arguments in the case.

The hearing was adjourned until 9:30 a.m., with Justice Shah stating that the counsel for both sides would have two days to summarize their arguments in the case.

During the proceedings, Justice Munib Akhtar noted that the Supreme Court decision was announced shortly before the allocation of election symbols to parties. He mentioned that there were a number of legal errors that began at this point.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa inquired whether the Supreme Court had ruled that the bat symbol would not be assigned to the PTI. Faisal Siddiqui, a PTI lawyer, responded, “No, the Supreme Court did not say so.”

The CJP stated that the court had not directed the PTI not to hold intra-party elections. He observed that if the PTI had held intra-party elections, all of the issues would have been resolved.

According to Justice Athar Minallah, the PTI has repeatedly complained that it has not been treated fairly. The chief justice stated that the complaint was not before the court.

Justice Minallah stated that the Supreme Court was responsible for protecting the people’s basic rights. “We will see how to protect the basic rights of the people,” he stated.

Justice Ayesha Malik stated that the election symbol reserved for a party could not be given to a candidate from another party.

The chief justice remarked that if the PTI candidates declared independence and demanded the bat symbol following the Supreme Court ruling? He observed that the PTI violated its people’s democratic rights by failing to hold intra-party elections. He stated, “ECP decisions are challenged on a daily basis.” “You are no longer independents.”

In response to the SIC lawyer’s claim that there would have been no problem if the Supreme Court had explained its decision on the bat symbol, the Chief Justice stated that the issue of reserved seats would not have existed if the PTI had conducted intra-party polls.
“Why didn’t you ask for the bat as an independent candidate?” the CJP questioned Advocate Siddiqui. He claimed the party should have declared its candidates independent and then sought the bat symbol.

“You should have at least attempted to secure the bat symbol. The SC would then have determined whether it should be allotted to you or not,” the CJP stated.

“All independent candidates cannot ask for bat,” the counsel responded, pointing out that Salman Akram Raja had even requested that the ECP declare him a PTI candidate. However, he added that Raja’s request was denied.

“Don’t blame everything on the SC,” the CJP responded. “Had the elections been held, they would have benefited the PTI members. “If you want to talk about democracy, then follow it to the letter,” the CJP said.

“Start from the beginning, don’t talk about the ECP and the establishment,” he stated.

Justice Muneeb stated that a candidate who claims to belong to a party will be considered affiliated with it. Only candidates who submit an affidavit stating that they are not affiliated with any political party will be considered independent, he said.

“How can the ECP’s law declare PTI candidates independents?” Justice Munib remarked.

Full Court

A full court was formed last week to hear the case, with the exception of Justice Musarrat Hilali, who is ailing.

On Monday, the hearing was resumed by a 13-member bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa and including Justices Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Munib Akhtar, Yahya Afridi, Aminuddin Khan, Mandokhail, Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Ayesha Malik, Athar Minallah, Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi, Shahid Waheed, Irfan Saadat Khan, and Naeem Akhtar Afghan.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) all opposed the Sunni Ittehad Council’s (SIC) petition against the Peshawar High Court’s (PHC) decision that denied it reserved seats for women and minorities.

Earlier in May, the Supreme Court suspended the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision to allocate SIC’s reserved seats to other parties.

Monday’s proceedings

Faisal Siddiqui, a SIC lawyer, and Shah Faisal, Advocate General of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, appeared before the Supreme Court. According to Siddiqui of the SIC, two separate petitions were filed before the Supreme Court, whereas the advocate general stated that a contempt of court plea against the provincial government was filed before the PHC.

The chief justice inquired about the beneficiaries of the reserved seats case. According to Siddiqui, those who gained the extra seats were the beneficiaries. When the CJP asked about the total number of seats, Siddiqui responded, “There are 22 seats in the National Assembly and 55 in the Provincial Assembly.”

Justice Isa then questioned Siddiqi about the party breakdown of the additional seats allocated to them. The lawyer then provided the court with information about such reserved seats in provincial assemblies.

At this point, the CJP summoned the ECP counsel to clarify the number of additional reserved seats for women in the NA. Momand then informed the court that the commission’s position was “23 seats” and confirmed it.

During the proceedings, Justice Mansoor Ali Shah remarked that the people’s mandate should be properly represented in Parliament.

The court had referred the issue of reserved seats to the Judges Committee, which would decide whether the case should be heard by the same bench or a larger bench.

All parties opposed the SIC’s plea.

On the question of whether any beneficiary parties support the SIC, counsel for the PML-N, PPP, JUI-F, and PTI-P addressed the rostrum and opposed the SIC’s request.

Is SIC registered with the ECP?

CJP Isa inquired whether the SIC was a political party registered with the ECP. Siddiqui responded that it was recognized by the ECP and there was no disagreement about it.

Background

On March 4, Pakistan’s Election Commission accepted opposition party applications and decided that seats in the national and provincial assemblies would not be left vacant and would be allocated using a proportional representation process based on seats won by political parties.

The development resulted in the PTI-backed SIC losing 77 reserved seats: 23 National Assembly seats (20 women and 3 minorities), 25 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly seats (21 women and 4 minorities), two Sindh Assembly seats (women), and 27 Punjab Assembly seats (24 women and 3 minorities).

The Peshawar High Court
also rejected the Sunni Ittehad Council’s petitions for reserved seats for women and minorities. The party had challenged the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision to not allocate reserved women and minority seats to the SIC.














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