ISLAMABAD: As 25 PTI dissident members of the Punjab Assembly tried to seek refuge in technicalities, their lawyers pleaded before a bench of the ECP on Friday that the spirit behind Article 63-A of the Constitution must not be allowed to be defeated.

Most of the 25 dissident MPAs tried to justify their action of voting in favour of PML-N’s Hamza Shehbaz Sharif by claiming that they had received no directives from the party. They raised procedural objections and claimed they never received any show-cause notices — a mandatory requirement.

Barrister Ali Zafar, representing the PTI before a three-member bench of the ECP, argued that the objective behind Article 63-A was to eradicate defection from the body-politic. “If the defectors are not deseated, it will amount to encouraging defection,” Senator Ali Zafar argued.

Faisal Farid, a PTI counsel, said the 25 MPAs were issued show-cause notices on April 7 for taking part in a “mock election of the chief minister” at a hotel.

“They have not denied voting for the opposition’s candidate and deliberately damaged their party’s standing,” he said. Further hearing was adjourned to Monday.

The PTI dissidents in their replies raised questions about the validity of the declaration of defection and the procedure adopted to seek their disqualification.

Abdul Aleem Khan said in his reply the declaration of defection made by the party head was “without lawful authority” and void in the eyes of the law.

Malik Asad Ali, another MPA, claimed he was not guilty of defection, citing the same article for the alleged violation of which he is facing disqualification.

Published in Dawn, May 14th, 2022

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