LAHORE/ISLAM­ABAD: The National Assembly speaker’s action to accept the resignation of 43 PTI lawmakers survived the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) axe as ‘technical error’ on part of the petitioners handed the speaker a chance to claim “vindication”.

According to the detailed order issued on Friday, although the petitioners — 43 PTI lawmakers — challenged the speaker’s action to accept their resignation, they didn’t attach his order with the application.

“Thus no interim relief can be considered to that extent,” said Justice Shahid Karim, who authored the verdict.

The LHC only suspended the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) notification to de-notify the MNAs and did not pass any judgement on the speaker’s move.

After the detailed order, the National Assembly (NA) speaker’s office claimed that Raja Pervez Ashraf’s was “proved right” with regard to PTI lawmakers’ resignation.

A statement released by the speaker’s office said “matters were decided by looking at the constitutional and legal aspects”.

It further said the NA speaker not only considered the issue of resignations with great restraint but PTI members were also repeatedly summoned.

“Despite repeated summons, PTI members did not come and kept demanding acceptance of resignations,” the statement added. “Objections were raised after the NA speaker accepted the resignations, which was unconstitutional.”

LHC verdict

In the verdict, Justice Karim also said that the ECP’s notification will remain suspended and no schedule will be announced for elections on the said seats.

The order was passed after the court accepted the petition filed by Riaz Fatyana and 42 other PTI MNAs challenging the speaker’s decisions to accept their resignations and the subsequent move by the ECP to de-notify them.

The judge said the petition raised important questions of law and admitted it for regular hearing.

The speaker, the ECP and the federal government have been issued notice to submit their replies by March 7.

The detailed order was issued two days after the LHC reinstated the 43 lawmakers who had resigned when the PTI en masse quit the National Assembly after the no-confidence motion was passed against former prime minister Imran Khan.

A day after the decision, a group of PTI lawmakers attempted to attend the NA’s proceedings on Thursday but they were not allowed to enter the house.

Later, in a video message, Mr Ashraf said the assembly secretariat had not received a copy of the verdict.

“I believe once we have the decision, we will read it … and consult our lawyers and experts and then decide the way forward,” the NA speaker added.

He also stated that the government was made a party in the case, but it didn’t receive any notice and learnt about it from TV reports.

Published in Dawn, February 11th, 2023

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