PESHAWAR: Peshawar High Court on Tuesday sought reply within a fortnight from speaker of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly to plea of some opposition members elected on seats reserved for women and non-Muslims seeking implementation of the court’s order directing him (speaker) to take oath from them.

A bench consisting of Justice Syed Mohammad Attique Shah and Justice Fazal Subhan issued the order after preliminary hearing of a petition jointly filed by eight of the MPAs notified by Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on reserved seats including Ms Mehr Sultana, Behari Lal, Suresh Kumar, etc.

The bench also directed to club the instant plea with three other petitions filed by some other opposition members on reserved seats including Shazia Tehmas Khan, Aiman Jalil Jan, etc.

The petitioners have stated that despite clear directives of the court to the speaker to take oath from them prior to the April 2 Senate polls, he did not administer oath to them.

Court clubs instant plea with three other petitions over oath issue

They have requested the court to issue order to the KP Assembly speaker for implementation of its order.

Barrister Saqib Raza appeared for the petitioners and stated that the petitioners and several other MPAs, who were notified as MPAs on reserved seats, had filed petitions seeking declaration of the court that the non-administration of oath to them was illegal and unconstitutional.

He stated that the petitioners had further requested the court to direct the respondents including the speaker and the deputy speaker of the assembly to administer oath to them so as to enable them to participate and cast their votes in the April 2 Senate election.

He contended that the high court had accepted the said petitions on March 27 and had directed the speaker to administer oath to the petitioners and also to allow and facilitate them in casting their votes in the Senate election.

He stated that not only the counsel for the respondents (speaker and deputy speaker) was present rather the order was pronounced in open court.

He stated that till date no oath taking had been arranged, thus openly defying the court’s order.

He stated that the respondents had been dragging their feet on the matter.

He argued that the speaker should have done necessary correspondence for requisitioning of the session of the assembly and including administering oath to the MPAs as agenda item No. 1 by April 2 but no process for oath taking had been arranged, thus openly defying the time-bound order of the high court.

It is pertinent to mention that on April 3, a bench of the high court had sought response of the speaker and deputy speaker to a contempt petition filed by four of the MPAs-elect seeking to initiate contempt proceedings against the speaker and the deputy speaker for not implementing the court order of taking oath from them.

Those petitioners have also requested the court to order disqualification of Speaker Babar Saleem Swati and Deputy Speaker Suriya Bibi from holding any public office as they had willfully flouted the March 27 order of the high court.

The speaker has also filed a review petition in the high court, requesting it to recall its order of March 27.

The speaker has stated that administering oath to the members was only possible when assembly session was summoned or requisitioned as per the mandate of Article 65 of the Constitution. He added that the speaker couldn’t summon a session on his own unless requisition was filed by one-fourth of the members of the assembly.

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2024

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