PESHAWAR: More than a dozen candidates belonging to the main opposition parties in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, who were notified by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on reserved seats, have urged the Peshawar High Court (PHC) to ensure they are administered oath of office before the upcoming Senate elections.

Six women MPAs-elect of the JUI-F on Monday filed a writ petition asking the PHC to declare the non-administration of oath to them “illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional”, while eight returned candidates of the PML-N and PPP challenged the same in a joint petition.

As the PPP had also filed a similar petition last Friday, the PHC is expected to club all the petitions together at its hearing, scheduled for today (Tuesday).

The petitions have been filed after the KP Assembly Secretariat declined to hold the sitting, despite an order issued by the governor to convene a session on March 22.

On behalf of JUI-F MPAs-elect Aiman Jalil, Madina Gul, Rabia Shaheen, Neelofar Begum, Naheeda Noor and Arifa Bibi, Advocate Mohammad Farooq Afridi submitted the petition, impleading the KP Assembly speaker, the ECP and others as respondents. In addition, Advocate Afridi submitted the petition on behalf of Mehr Sultana and seven other petitioners belonging to the PPP and PML-N.

The JUI-F petitioners stated that the ECP, through a notification on March 4, declared them successful in the election on reserved seats for women in the KP Assembly. “By virtue of the March 4 notification, the petitioners have become MPAs of KP and have the right to be administered oath by the speaker and deputy speaker,” they said.

According to the petition, the assembly session is summoned either by the governor under Article 109 or by the speaker only on a requisition signed by no less than a quarter of the total strength of the house. Since they did not enjoy the required majority of one-fourth membership in the assembly to move a requisition, the petitioners said, they approached the opposition leader and KP governor to summon the session.

The petition stated that the governor under Article 109 exercised the discretionary powers and summoned the session on March 22 to administer the oath to the candidates declared successful by the ECP.

But the speaker and his deputy deviated from their constitutional obligations “due to political rivalry” and refused to administer the oath to them, it pointed out.

Senate elections

According to the petition, the MPAs-elect belonging to the JUI-F, PML-N and PPP, despite being declared victorious in the election, were being deprived of their fundamental right of oath, with an aim to keep them away in the Senate election scheduled for April 2.

The petitioners urged the court to direct the ECP to postpone the scheduled Senate election till the disposal of their petition as an interim relief.

Besides, they have also asked the court to declare the defiant attitude of the speaker and deputy speaker for non-compliance with the governor’s letter as mala fide and blatant violation of constitutional provisions.

Published in Dawn, March 26th, 2024

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