SC, IHC urged to declare seats of MQM legislators vacant

Published August 18, 2015
SC asked to declare the seats of MQM vacant while IHC urged to set a time limit to decide the matter.—AFP/File
SC asked to declare the seats of MQM vacant while IHC urged to set a time limit to decide the matter.—AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: The en masses resignation of MQM lawmakers from both houses of parliament as well as the Sindh Assembly led to the institution of two petitions on Monday — the first in the Supreme Court and the second in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

The petition filed in the Supreme Court by former PML-N senator Zafar Ali Shah pleaded that the seats of MQM lawmakers, including the party’s parliamentary leader in the National Assembly Dr Farooq Sattar, be declared vacant from the date they tendered their resignations before the National Assembly speaker, Senate chairman and Sindh Assembly speaker because these were genuine and voluntary.

Take a look: MQM lawmakers tender resignations

The other petition filed by political activist Mohammad Dawood Ghazanavi requested the IHC to set a time limit for the Senate chairman and speakers of the National and Sindh assemblies to decide the matter.

The high court should also restrain the custodians of the houses from playing politics and toeing the government line and ask them to decide the matter in accordance with the law, the petition said. The MQM legislators had submitted their resignations on Aug 12 while expressing their reservations over the Rangers-led operation in Karachi.

In his petition, Zafar Ali Shah has named as respondents MQM chief Altaf Hussain and all 83 Muttahida lawmakers, including 24 members of the National Assembly, eight senators and 51 members of the Sindh Assembly, in addition to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani, National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq and Leader of the Opposition Syed Khurshid Shah, Senator Aitzaz Ahsan and Leader of the House in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq and others.

The petitioner requested the Supreme Court to declare the MQM lawmakers as ex-MNAs, ex-senators and ex-MPAs because they had lost their right to sit in the houses. And any attempt to allow the MQM members to retain their seats in view of any understanding between the party and the government would amount to violation of the constitution and election rules, he said.

Mr Shah also sought a court direction for the Senate chairman and speakers of the two assemblies to send notifications to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) by declaring the seats held by the MQM members as vacant. They should also be restrained from issuing salaries, allowances and other fringe benefits to the MQM lawmakers.

Likewise, the ECP should be directed to announce by-elections for the vacant seats. Mr Shah also sought an order for the offices concerned to immediately furnish complete record of the resignations before the court.

In his petition, Mr Ghazanavi contended that the people of the constituencies represented by the MQM lawmakers had been deprived of having fair and equitable representation in parliament and the Sindh Assembly.

Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2015

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