PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Wednesday put the speaker and deputy speaker of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on notice, seeking their response to a plea for contempt proceedings against them over their failure to follow the court’s orders to administer oaths to opposition MPAs elected to reserved seats.

A bench consisting of Justice Syed Mohammad Attique Shah and Justice Syed Arshad Ali held a preliminary hearing into a contempt petition filed by four opposition women MPAs-elect, who also sought its orders for the disqualification of Speaker Babar Saleem Swati and Deputy Speaker Suriya Bibi from holding any public office for “willfully flouting” the March 27 orders of the high court.

The petitioners, including Shazia Tehmas of the PPPP and Faiza Malik, Amina Sardar and Shazia Jadoon of the PML-N, insisted that the speaker should have done the necessary correspondence for the requisitioning of the session of the assembly and including administering oaths to the MPAs as Agenda Item No 1 by April 2, but the process for their swearing-in wasn’t initiated, defying the court’s time-bound orders.

Aamir Javed and Barrister Saqib Raza, lawyers for the petitioners, said their clients and several other MPAs, who were notified as MPAs elected on reserved seats, had petitioned the court to declare that the denial of oaths to those lawmakers was illegal and unconstitutional.

Opposition MPAs claim court orders violated as oaths not administered to them

They said the petitioners further requested the court to direct the respondents, including the speaker and the deputy speaker of the assembly, to administer oaths to them to enable them to participate in the April Senate elections.

The lawyers insisted that the high court accepted those petitions on March 27 and directed the speaker to administer oaths to the petitioners and facilitate their participation in the Senate elections.

They added that not only the counsel for the respondents was present, but the order was pronounced in the open court as well, and that the order was also disseminated through print and electronic media.

The counsel, however, complained that the oath-taking ceremony hadn’t taken place until now, in open defiance of the court’s orders.

They said that the respondents had been dragging their feet on the matter.

The lawyers said the attitude and conduct of the respondents were tantamount to the contempt of the court, and therefore, they were liable to be prosecuted and punished accordingly.

The speaker of the assembly has already filed a review petition with the high court requesting it to recall its March 27 orders.

The petition was taken up for a preliminary hearing on April 2 by a bench, which decided to conduct further proceedings over it after the detailed judgment in the case was released.

MORE PETITIONS FILED: Two more contempt petitions were filed on Wednesday by some opposition members against the speaker, deputy speaker, and secretary of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly.

One of the petitions came from six women MPAs of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl, including Aiman Jalil Jan and others, while the other was filed by PML-N member Afshan Hussain.

The petitioners insisted that the act of the responders to defy the judgement of the high court was absolutely intentional.

They added that if such acts continued and the perpetrators were not punished, the people would feel bad about it.

The petitioners also requested that the court direct the speaker and the deputy speaker to implement its orders without delay.

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2024

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