• In reply before SC, govt says allocation to eligible parties is the only permissible solution
• PTI seeks to join apex court proceedings, wants cardinal principles of democracy upheld

ISLAMABAD: Ahead of today’s (Thursday’s) full court hearing on the matter of reserved seats, the government informed the Supreme Court that the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) was not entitled to reserved seats, seeking the dismissal of the instant petition.

Meanwhile, the PTI has sought to become a party to the case.

In its submission to the top court on Wednesday, the government said the SIC did not deserve seats reserved for non-Muslim and women lawmakers as it consisted entirely of independent candidates.

The SIC did not field even a single candidate in the general election or furnish a list required under Section 104 of the Elections Act 2017, it argued.

According to the response, the only constitutionally permissible solution was to allocate the additional seats to other eligible political parties in proportion to the general seats secured by them, based on the formula worked out after the exclusion of independent returned candidates — who either joined the SIC or retained their independent status.

According to the government, reserved seats could be allocated only to political parties that have contested general elections, have at least one returned candidate and have furnished a separate list of candidates to the ECP.

Not excluding independent returned candidates, who retain independent status or have joined a non-contesting political party, will result in the inescapable vacancy of reserved seats, which is constitutionally impermissible, according to the response.

Similarly, it said the failure to submit a list under Section 104 of the Elections Act 2017 would disentitle the party from the allocation of reserved seats. This will necessarily mean that candidates belonging to such a party will be treated as independents for the purposes of a formula devised for allocating reserved seats among the political parties.

In such a situation, the numerator of the formula will decrease resulting in a lower threshold requirement for each of the reserved seats, which would proportionally increase the share of reserved seats for other political parties.

According to the submission, independent returned candidates can only join a political party which has a parliamentary party in the house required under Article 63A(2).

The response said the Constitution and the law required that general seats secured by independent candidates be subtracted from the total number of general seats. Not doing so will result in some of the reserved seats being vacant, which is constitutionally impermissible, it stressed.

According to the response, the Constitution demands that its provisions are read in harmony and Article 51(6)(d) (e) and 106(3)(c) ought to be looked at alongside Article 63A.

‘Denial of will of people’

On the other hand, the PTI through its leader Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, said that the grant of a disproportionate number of seats to other political parties would deepen the denial of the will of the people.

It said the danger of far-reaching amendments to the constitutional and legal structure of the state through an unrepresentative parliament must be met by upholding the cardinal principles of democracy and representativeness of parliament.

The application stated that the PTI backed 86 returned candidates in the National Assembly, 107 in Punjab Assembly, 91 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Assembly, and nine in Sindh Assembly. They were entitled to be counted for the purpose of election to the reserved seats on the basis of proportional representation.

The PTI had filed lists of candidates for the seats reserved for women and non-Muslims in the National and provincial assemblies on or before the last date for the filing of such lists by ECP before the Feb 8 general elections.

Many of the candidates on these lists also filed their nomination papers declaring their affiliation to the PTI, the application said, adding Article 51(6)(d) and (e) of the Constitution did not impose an absolute requirement that independent returned candidates must join a political party with at least one general seat in a house in order for such returned candidates to be counted for the election for the reserved seats.

The Constitution or Section 104 of the Elections Act 2017 does not require that lists for reserved seats be necessarily filed before the date of the general election, the application stated.

Published in Dawn, June 27th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Misery and despair
Updated 12 Jul, 2024

Misery and despair

Is a life lived happily and respectably too much to ask for from your country?
Temporary extension
12 Jul, 2024

Temporary extension

THE cabinet’s decision to allow ‘legal’ Afghan refugees — meaning those with Proof of Registration cards —...
Anti-smog strategy
12 Jul, 2024

Anti-smog strategy

BY acknowledging that smog is a year-round problem, and not just a winter issue, the Punjab government has taken the...
Population crisis
Updated 11 Jul, 2024

Population crisis

Moreover, successful programmes, such as Lady Health Workers, can be utilised to provide information and reproductive health services to women.
Taxing agriculture
11 Jul, 2024

Taxing agriculture

OUR inability to collect sufficient tax revenue is resulting in persistently high fiscal deficits, forcing ...
Negligence at PHOTA
11 Jul, 2024

Negligence at PHOTA

THE impression that the state is being careless towards aspects of organ trade control is damaging. Recent news ...