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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

In light of SC decision, ECP Suspends notification of 75 law makers on reserved seats

This suspension affected lawmakers who had been allocated additional reserved seats for in all provincial legislatures except Balochistan.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) took action on Monday by suspending the notifications of 75 candidates who had been returned for reserved seats in the national and provincial assemblies until further notice. Among these lawmakers were 27 members of the Punjab Assembly affiliated with the ruling coalition, who had previously been suspended by Speaker Malik Mohammad Ahmed Khan and were prohibited from participating in house proceedings.

The ECP’s decision stemmed from the Supreme Court’s order on May 6, which temporarily halted the Peshawar High Court’s ruling that denied reserved seats for women and minorities to the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC). This suspension affected lawmakers who had been allocated additional reserved seats for women and minorities in all provincial legislatures except Balochistan.

The suspended members included eight women from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 11 women from Punjab, and three minority candidates in the National Assembly. Similarly, in the KP Assembly, 21 women and four minority lawmakers faced suspension, while in the Sindh Assembly, the memberships of two female members and one male member representing minorities were revoked pending further orders. In the Punjab Assembly, 24 members from women’s seats and three from minority seats were also suspended by the ECP.

A legal tussle between PTI and ECP

This development followed the SIC’s previous alliance with independent candidates supported by the PTI after losing their party symbol ‘bat’ in the February 8 elections. In March, the ECP had ruled against the SIC’s claim for reserved seats due to legal defects and failure to submit a mandatory party list for reserved seats. Consequently, seats were redistributed among other parties, notably benefiting the PML-N and the PPP with 16 and five additional seats, respectively.

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Subsequently, the PHC dismissed an SIC plea contesting the ECP’s decision. Seeking relief, the SIC approached the Supreme Court last month, challenging both the PHC and ECP rulings. The Supreme Court, while suspending the PHC and ECP judgments, clarified that its order only affected the distribution of seats above the initially allocated reserved seats for political parties.