LHC suspends de-notification order of 43 PTI lawmakers

Published February 8, 2023
<p>The combination photo shows PTI MNAs Lal Chand (L), Riaz Fatyana (C) and Munaza Hassan (R). — DawnNewsTV</p>

The combination photo shows PTI MNAs Lal Chand (L), Riaz Fatyana (C) and Munaza Hassan (R). — DawnNewsTV

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday suspended National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf’s acceptance of the resignations of 43 PTI lawmakers and put by-elections in 43 constituencies on hold.

The court order was pronounced by Justice Shahid Karim on a petition filed by PTI’s Riaz Fatyana and 42 other MNAs against the NA speaker’s acceptance of their resignations and the Election Commission of Pakistan’s de-notification orders.

The ECP had de-notified 123 MNAs (including reserved seats), following the acceptance of resignations by the speaker.

During the hearing today, PTI lawyer Ali Zafar contended that PTI MNAs had withdrawn their resignation before the NA speaker had accepted them.

“Once the resignations are retracted, the speaker has no power to accept them […] this shows that the acceptance of the resignations is against the law and based on malice,” he argued.

Zafar further said that the NA speaker’s order was contrary to the rules set by the Supreme Court, claiming that Ashraf had only accepted the resignation to take “political revenge”.

“He never called PTI MNAs and asked them their stance,” he pointed out and requested the court to declare the speaker’s order null and void.

Subsequently, the court suspended Ashraf’s decision and the ECP’s de-notification order. Justice Karim also issued notices to the federal government and the electoral body and instructed them to submit their responses on the matter at the next hearing.

PTI lawmakers whose resignations have been suspended

  1. Muhammad Riaz Khan Fatyana
  2. Nasrullah Khan Dreshak
  3. Tahir Sadiq
  4. Zulfiqar Ali Khan
  5. Haji Imtiaz Chowdry
  6. Malik Muhammad Ehsan Ullah Tiwana
  7. Raza Nasrullah
  8. Muhammad Mehboob Sultan
  9. Muhammad Ameer Sultan
  10. Rai Muhammad Murtaza Iqbal
  11. Mian Muhammad Shafiq
  12. Muhammad Farooq Azam Malik
  13. Javed Iqbal Warakh
  14. Muhammad Shabbir Ali Qureshi
  15. Niaz Ahmed
  16. Khwaja Sheraz Mehmood
  17. Sardar Mohammad Khan Leghari
  18. Rukhsana Naveed
  19. Seemin Bukhari
  20. Munaza Hassan
  21. Nusrat Wahid
  22. Fauzia Behram
  23. Tashfeen Safdar
  24. Lal Chand
  25. Jai Parkash
  26. Jamshed Thomas
  27. Malik Anwar Taj
  28. Mohammad Yaqoob Sheikh
  29. Ghazala Saifi
  30. Syma Nadeem
  31. Naureen Farooque Khan
  32. Uzma Riaz
  33. Shaheen Niaz Saifullah
  34. Gul Zafar Khan
  35. Jawad Hussain
  36. Rahat Amanullah Bhatti
  37. Sobia Kamal Khan
  38. Nausheed Hamid
  39. Rubina Jamil
  40. Nafeesa Inayatullah Khattak
  41. Sajida Zulfqar
  42. Zile Huma
  43. Shunila Ruth

PTI petition

The petition stated that PTI lawmakers had requested the speaker not to de-notify them, as they had withdrawn resignations but the speaker still went ahead and accepted their resignations “without following due process”.

It contended that en masse resignations could not be treated as resignations, as they were not voluntary, but based on political considerations to force early elections.

This aspect was never denied by the speaker, and all petitioners were asked to return to parliament, the petition said.

But, when the petitioners opted to return to the assembly, and withdrew their resignations, the speaker “unlawfully” accepted their resignations on political grounds, it added.

The petition alleged that the speaker and the Election Commission never followed the law, but, instead, acted “on the dictation from high-ups”.

The speaker did not personally invite the lawmakers to verify their resignations, before accepting them, it added.

PTI resignations

PTI lawmakers had resigned en masse from the lower house of parliament following the ouster of PTI chief Imran Khan in April last year.

NA Speaker Ashraf on July 28, 2022, accepted the resignations of only 11 PTI lawmakers.

The PTI had challenged the “piecemeal acceptance” in the Islamabad High Court (IHC), contesting that it was “unsustainable”. The IHC, however, had dismissed the petition on Sept 6, 2022.

The party then approached the Supreme Court, praying it to set aside the IHC order, terming it “vague, cursory, and against the law”. A decision on the PTI’s plea in the apex court is still pending.

Ashraf told a PTI delegation on Dec 29, 2022, that the party’s lawmakers would be summoned individually for verification of their resignations as the latter insisted on them being accepted in one go.

But after stalling the process for eight months, the NA speaker accepted the resignations of 34 PTI MNAs on Jan 17 and 35 MNAs on Jan 20, including Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid, as the party hinted it would “test” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif with a confidence vote.

On Jan 24, 43 PTI MNAs had written to the NA speakers withdrawing their resignations. However, the speaker had already accepted the resignations by then. Subsequently, on Jan 25, the ECP de-notified 43 more PTI lawmakers, taking the total number to 123.



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