ISLAMABAD: Five PTI senators on Monday challenged the election of chairman and deputy chairman of the upper house of parliament scheduled to be held today (Tuesday) and the Islamabad High Court (IHC) admitted their petition for regular hearing.

IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq took up the petition filed by Dr Zarqa Suharwardy Taimur, Falak Naz, Fawzia Arshad, Saifullah Sarwar Khan Nyazee and Saifullah Abro.

The petitioners’ counsel informed the court that the election process involves secret balloting, with members casting votes for candidates contesting from their respective provinces.

It said that election to 11 seats of the Senate having fallen vacant in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province had been postponed for the reason that the members of the KP Assembly, purportedly elected on the reserved as provided under Article 106 of the constitution, had not taken the oath and thus the electoral college was incomplete.

Five PTI senators tell IHC April 9 election cannot take place as the house is not complete

The election for the reserved seats in the KP Assembly was to be held on April 2, the petition said, adding that “it has been widely reported that a session of an “incomplete” Senate has been summoned on April 9 to hold elections of chairman and deputy chairman.

It may be noted that election to the 11 seats of Senate from KP was postponed after the speaker refused to administer oath to those who had been declared returned candidates to reserved seats of the provincial legislature leaving the house.

According to the PTI senators’ petition, the election to the office of chairman and deputy chairman Senate cannot be held in the absence of members from KP.

“Under Article 60 of the Cons­titution, the election to the offices of Chairman and Deputy Chairman of the Senate can only be held after the Senate has been duly constituted,” the petition pointed out.

The petition requested the court to postpone the elections of chairman and deputy chairman till the house is complete.

After preliminary hearing, Justice Farooq held that the petition was maintainable.

However, he said the court would seek assistance to determine if it has jurisdiction to interfere in such matters or not.

The court issued notices to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Senate Secretariat and adjourned hearing.

The ECP had earlier denied the reserved seats to the PTI-Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) and the matter is pending before the Supreme Court.

Moved by SIC Chairman Sahibzada Mohammad Hamid Raza, the petition before the Supreme Court seeks the setting aside of the Peshawar High Court’s March 14 judgement that had upheld the ECP’s direction.

The SIC was earlier joined by the PTI-backed independent candidates after they won the Feb 8 elections, since Imran Khan’s party had been deprived of its electoral symbol ‘bat’.

Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2024

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