PESHAWAR: A Peshawar High Court bench on Tuesday directed the lawyer for MPA-elect Baldev Kumar to explain whether the provincial assembly’s proceedings could be challenged in any court of law.

Chief Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Syed Afsar Shah later adjourned until May 9 (Wednesday) the hearing into a contempt petition filed by Baldev Kumar against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser along with other MPAs for not administering the oath of office to him despite the court orders.

Qazi Mohammad Anwar, lawyer for Asad Qaiser, said in accordance with an earlier order, his client had twice issued production order of the petitioner, who was at that time imprisoned for being an accused in a murder case, but the petitioner couldn’t be sworn in due to the pandemonium caused by certain MPAs in the house.

Seeks MPA-elect’s explanation on matter in contempt case

He said the assembly’s both sessions were adjourned due to a lack of quorum.

Qazi Anwar argued that under Article 69 of the Constitution read with Article 127, the validity of any proceedings in the assembly should not be called in question on the ground of any irregularity of procedure.

He said those constitutional provisions further provided that no officer or member of the assembly in whom powers were vested by or under the Constitution for regulating procedure or conduct of business should be subject to the jurisdiction of any court in respect of the exercise by him of those powers.

The lawyer said the speaker could not be questioned for the performance of his official functions in the Assembly under the Constitution.

He said the speaker had followed the court’s order and had issued production order of the petitioner, but the situation which emerged inside the session was not in his control.

Ghulam Mohiuddin Malik appeared for provincial minister Shah Farman and MPA Arbab Jehandad, who are also charged in the contempt petition, and requested the court to exempt them from personal appearance in the case.

The bench accepted their pleas and exempted them from personal appearance.

The petitioner’s counsel, Muhib Jan Salarzai, said his client was declared MPA-elect by the Election Commission of Pakistan on a seat reserved for non-Muslims in the KP Assembly.

He said despite issuance of notification by the ECP the Speaker was reluctant to issue his production order.

He added that subsequently on the order of the high court the Speaker issued his production order.

The lawyer, however, said when the petitioner was produced in the assembly an atmosphere of hostility was deliberately created so that the petitioner should not take oath of his office.

He said only few days were left in completion of the tenure of the present provincial assembly and it was an injustice to the petitioner not to administer him oath.

The bench directed him to prepare arguments whether the proceedings inside the assembly could be challenged before the court.

Petitioner Baldev Kumar was arrested in 2016 on charges of killing the then advisor to the chief minister, Sardar Soran Singh. The police alleged that the motive for the murder was that by eliminating Soran Singh the petitioner wanted to become an MPA.

As his name was at serial No 2 of the priority list of candidates which the PTI had submitted for the reserved seats for minorities in the 2013 general elections, therefore, he was declared MPA-elect by the Election Commission of Pakistan.

The petitioner was acquitted by an anti-terrorism court in Buner on Apr 26, 2018, and was set free from prison.

Following the hearing in the high court, Baldev Kumar told media persons that he had complete faith on the judiciary.

He said that his acquittal in the murder case proved his innocence. About his oath, he said that it was in his destiny he would take oath in the Assembly.

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2018

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