KARACHI, Feb 8: The Sindh High Court on Friday directed the speaker of the Sindh Assembly to appoint leader of the opposition in the provincial assembly within 10 days.
A division bench headed by Justice Maqbool Baqar disposed of the petition of 10 opposition members, nine of them belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League (Functional), with this direction.
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 — were represented by advocates Abdul Mujeeb Pirzada and Syed Khalid Shah.
Their counsel submitted that being the opposition members their clients were constitutionally and legally entitled to nominate from among themselves any of the members as the leader of the opposition to run the business of the assembly.
They stated that the petitioners unanimously nominated MPA Nusrat Bano Seher Abbasi to be the opposition leader in the provincial assembly.
The counsel stated that the petitioners 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.
They contended 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.
The counsel argued 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 in their petition stated that they also verbally requested for separate seats and later lodged protests as well, but to no avail.
The counsel 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.
They contended that it was therefore abundantly clear that no caretaker cabinet was to be appointed under the 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 the 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.
Additional Advocate General Sarwar Khan informed the court that the opposition seats had already been allocated to the petitioner MPAs in the assembly.
He candidly conceded that the speaker was bound to declare an opposition member having support of majority of opposition members the leader of the opposition.
He also informed the court that the nomination of another member from the other opposition group was also submitted to the speaker in addition to the nomination of Nusrat Bano Seher Abbasi by the petitioners for appointment as leader of the opposition.
The bench disposed of the petition by directing the speaker “to decide the fate of the nominations as may have been submitted before him for nomination of the Leader of the Opposition in the provincial assembly at the earliest and not later than ten days from today”.