ECP links Senate polls with K-P MPAs’ oath

In Local
March 29, 2024



The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday linked the Senate elections to the extent of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa with the oath-taking of its MPAs allocated reserved seats, warning that it would be compelled to delay the polls in the province until they were sworn in.

The ECP’s directives have come on the heels of the Peshawar High Court’s verdict through which it ordered the administration of oath to the newly notified members of the K-P Assembly on the reserved seats for women and minorities belonging to the opposition parties.

Both the decisions have come as the K-P Assembly speaker was apparently delaying the administration of oath to the new members to prevent them from voting for the opposition candidates in the Senate elections scheduled for April 2.

The issue had arisen from the allocation of the reserved seats to the opposition parties instead of the ruling Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) — a small party in which the PTI-backed independent members found refuge.

The SIC maintained that those reserved seats were its right as per its strength in the assembly.
However, the ECP had declined to allocate the reserved seats to the SIC because it had neither applied for them, nor provided its priority list to the commission before the February 8 general polls – a mandatory requirement under the election laws.

The PHC also upheld the ECP’s decision.

On Thursday, a five-member bench of the commission, while referring to the order of the PHC and in exercise of its powers under Article 218(3) of the Constitution [read with Section 4(1) and Section 8(c)] of the ECP Act of 2017, ruled that the electoral body would be forced to postpone the Senate polls to the extent of the K-P Assembly if its members were deprived from being sworn in.

In the order, the ECP directed that in case of the K-P Assembly speaker’s failure to comply with the directions of the PHC, the commission would be “constrained to postpone the ensuing Senate elections” and “extend the time for completion: of the polls in the upper house of parliament “to the extent of” the province in terms of Section 128 of the Election Act, 2017 as well as amend the notification issued under its Section20T till the administration of oath to the MPAs.

The bench, headed by ECP Chairman Sikandar Sultan Raja, and including Nisar Ahmed Durrani, Shah Mohammad Jatoi, Babar Hassan Bharwana, and Justice (retd) Ikramullah Khan gave the order on the applications of six petitioners in connection with the oath-taking on the reserved seats of the K-P Assembly and postponement of the Senate elections.

MPAs-elect Jamila Paracha, Afshan Hussain, Amna Sardar, Faiza Malik, Shazia Jadoon, and Suresh Kumar, who attended the proceedings, argued that they were being denied the opportunity to take oath as K-P MPAs.

The petitioners submitted applications seeking directions of the ECP to the concerned authorities to make arrangements for the administration of oath to them.

The applicants also prayed that until the administration of oath to them, the upcoming Senate elections to the extent of K-P should be suspended.

During the hearing, the K-P Assembly secretary appeared before the bench and said the meeting of the provincial legislature would be convened in accordance with its Rules of the Business.
He added that the speaker had not refused to administer oath to the applicants.

However, the ECP noted in the order that according to applicants, they approached the K-P Assembly speaker for convening a session of the legislature to administer oath to them but he refused to do so.
The commission ruled that voting was a fundamental right and nobody could be deprived of it.

 “The commission has ample power to issue such directions and make such consequential orders to ensure that election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law,” it added.

The ECP bench also ruled that Section 128 of the Elections Act empowered the commission to extend the time for the completion of the Senate elections — for reasons which it considered sufficient — by making necessary amendments to the notification issued under Section 107 of the polls law.

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