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LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Tuesday issued notices to the federal government, Election Commission of Pakistan and two opposition political parties on a petition challenging the election of Prime Minster Imran Khan for being invalid as at least 69 members of the National Assembly abstained from voting, failing to perform their function of participating in the establishment of the government.

Sheikh Zahid Mahmood, a lawyer, had pleaded in his petition that it was mandatory under Article 91 (4) of the Constitution that every member of the National Assembly must cast his/her vote to person(s) nominated for the election of prime minister.

“Two main political parties – the PPP and the Jamaat-i-Islami — abstained from voting in the election of the prime minister,” lawyer’s counsel A.K Dogar said in his opening arguments.

He said both the parties having 69 members (in the National Assembly) abstained from voting. Therefore, he said, they failed to perform their duty of participating in the establishment of the federal government.

The counsel argued that it could not be countenanced that some of the members might not vote and yet they would be counted as part of the assembly. He said the elected representatives of the people could not abstain from casting their votes.

Advocate Dogar pointed out that in 21 countries of the world, including Australia, every member of the assembly was required to cast his/her vote in the election of prime minster.

He asked the court to declare that every member of the National Assembly must perform his/her constitutional duty to taking part in the voting for the leader of the house and chief executive of the state.

He further requested the court to declare that Imran Khan had been elected as prime minister unconstitutionally because of the absence of the votes of the total membership of the assembly.

Justice Shahid Waheed directed a deputy attorney general to submit a written reply on behalf of the government. The judge also allowed the petitioner to implead all those members of the assembly who abstained from voting.

Hearing was adjourned till Nov 1.

Published in Dawn, September 5th, 2018