PESHAWAR: The Pesha­war High Court on Wednesday ordered the speaker of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly to administer oath of office to the opposition members elected to reserved seats for women and non-Muslims, and facilitate them to cast votes in the Senate elections, scheduled for April 2.

A PHC division bench consisting of Justice Syed Mohammad Attique Shah and Justice Shakeel Ahmad accepted three almost identical petitions filed by around 20 opposition MPAs elected on reserved seats, and direc­ted the speaker to include the matter as agenda item No. 1 of the first business day of the session requisitioned for the upcoming Senate elections.

The bench issued a two-page short order on the matter, stating that detailed reasons would be recorded later.

“Worthy Speaker Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa Assem­bly is directed to administer oath to the petitioners and also allow them to sign the Roll of Members…”, the order read.

“He is also directed to allow and facilitate the petitioners in casting their votes in the upcoming Senate Election scheduled for 02.04.2024,” it added.

The petitioners, including Shazia Tehmas Khan and 19 other MPAs belonging to the PPP-Parliamentarians, PML-N, JUI-F and PTI-Parliamentarians, had requested the court to declare illegal and unconstitutional the failure of the speaker and deputy speaker to call the assembly’s sitting to administer oath to them.

They had sought the court’s directives for the speaker and deputy speaker to ensure their early swearing in to enable them to cast vote in the April 2 Senate polls.

The petitions were filed after a controversy had emerged as the KP governor had summoned the session for March 22, but the assembly’s secretariat had declined to hold the session after receiving opinion from the provincial law department.

Lawyers Amir Javed, Tariq Khan Afridi and Farooq Afridi appeared on behalf of the petitioners, while Advocate Ali Azim Afridi represented the speaker and Sikandar Bashir Momand appeared for the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Advocate General Shah Faisal Uthmankhel and additional attorney general Sanaullah Khan appeared on behalf of the provincial and federal governments, respectively.

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2024

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