LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Monday suspended a decision of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) regarding the de-notification of around 30 more MNAs of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) from Punjab.
Issuing the interim order on petitions filed by Shafqat Mahmood and others, Justice Shahid Karim also suspended the process of by-elections in the petitioners’ constituencies.
On Feb 8, the judge had suspended another notification of the ECP regarding acceptance of resignations of 43 PTI MNAs.
However, Justice Karim did not touch on the decision of the National Assembly speaker.
Order also applies on process of by-polls in their constituencies
As many as 70 MNAs had filed the petitions. The judge, however, extended the interim relief to lawmakers elected from Punjab only and advised the others to approach other courts.
Senator Barrister Syed Ali Zafar, who represented the petitioners, contended that under the law, the Speaker cannot accept the resignation of any MNA without following a three-pronged procedure prescribed by the Constitution.
He pointed out that every MNA has to submit an application in his own handwriting and the resignations must be voluntary. For verification of these matters, Senator Zafar added, each of the legislators had to appear before the Speaker in person and confirm that they had submitted the resignation of their own accord.
Barrister Zafar said Speaker Pervaiz Ashraf had initially questioned the acceptance of en masse resignations by Qasim Suri, who was deputy speaker when the PTI was in power, on the ground that the procedure had not been observed.
He said the speaker had earlier told a PTI delegation that he would call everyone individually to verify the resignations.
Barrister Ali Zafar said under Article 64 of the Constitution, the speaker had a duty to ascertain whether it was signed by the person resigning, whether it was voluntary and whether it was intended to act as a resignation.
Even though the speaker knew the PTI lawmakers had declared their intention to return to the National Assembly, Ali Zafar added, he overruled his own decision and decided to accept their resignations without calling the MNAs for verification.
“This about-turn by the Speaker was contrary to the Constitution.”
Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2023