KARACHI, Jan 22: The Sindh High Court on Tuesday issued notices to the federal and provincial law secretaries and the speaker and deputy speaker of the Sindh Assembly in a petition seeking appointment of the leader of the opposition in the provincial assembly.

The petition was filed by 10 opposition members of the provincial assembly, nine of them belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional.

The petitioners — Jam Madad Ali, Nusrat Bano Seher Abbasi, Shaharyar Khan Mahar, Muhammed Rafique Banbhan, Rahim Bux Bozdar, Rana Abdul Sattar, Qazi Shams Din Rajar, Ali Ghulam Nizamani, Syeda Marvi Rashdi and Mir Abid Hussain Jatoi — impleaded the federal and provincial law secretaries, the chief secretary, the speaker and the deputy speaker of the provincial assembly as respondents.

A division bench headed by Justice Maqbool Baqar issued notices to the respondents and the provincial chief law officer and put off the hearing to Feb 1.

The petitioners, represented by Advocates Abdul Mujeeb Pirzada and Syed Khalid Shah, stated that they were opposition members in the Sindh Assembly.

They said that being the opposition members they were constitutionally and legally entitled to nominate from amongst themselves any of the members as the leader of the opposition to run the business of the assembly.

The petitioners stated that they unanimously nominated MPA Nusrat Bano Seher Abbasi to be the opposition leader of the provincial assembly.

They submitted that they moved an application to the speaker on Dec 19, 2012 informing him of Ms Abbasi’s nomination and their support to her as the leader of the opposition.

The petitioner stated that after receipt of the application the speaker was legally bound to allocate seats to the opposition members in the assembly so as to complete the house and to conduct and run the business and affairs of the assembly smoothly and in accordance with the mandate given under the Constitution.

They said that the deputy speaker ought to have allocated seats in the house to such members/group after the formation of the opposition group, but due to the lethargic behaviour of the respondents they were not allocated the seats.

The petitioners stated that they also verbally requested for separate seats and later lodged protests as well, but to no avail.

They stated that the provincial assembly was completing its term on March 23, 2013 and under Articles 224 and 224-A of the constitution a caretaker chief minister shall be appointed by the governor in consultation with the chief minister and the leader of the opposition in the outgoing provincial assembly.

The petitioners contended that it was therefore abundantly clear that even no caretaker cabinet was to be appointed under law in the absence of the leader of the opposition.

They submitted that it was the prime requirement of the time and law that seats were to be allocated to the petitioners without any further delays before the assembly completed its term as neither caretaker chief minister nor could his cabinet be appointed as mandated in Articles 224 and 224-A of the Constitution.

The petitioners prayed to the court to declare that the respondents were constitutionally bound to immediately allocate the opposition members their seats in the house and to appoint the leader of the opposition.

They also prayed to the court to restrain the respondents, their servants, subordinates and/or anybody else claiming through or under them from summoning the session of the assembly or conducting any business/affairs of the Sindh Assembly in the absence of the leader of the opposition.

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