In a major development, the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday suspended the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) order that de-notified 43 MNAs of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
The high court also stayed the by-elections on the 43 constituencies of the de-notified MNAs till further notice.
The directives were passed during the hearing of a plea filed by Riaz Fatyana and other lawmakers against the approval of their resignations by National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf. The ECP had de-notified the lawmakers after the speaker sent their resignations to the electoral body.
The de-notified MNAs last week filed a plea in the LHC to set aside the NA speaker’s approval of resignations and ECP’s notification declaring the seats vacant.
During the hearing, presided over by Justice Shahid Karim, the petitioner’s counsel Barrister Ali Zafar contended that legal requirements were not fulfilled while accepting the resignations.
Justice Karim inquired about which legal requirements were not met.
At this, Barrister Zafar said that the speaker did not hold an inquiry in line with the constitution before accepting the resignations.
Later, the court issued notices to the ECP and other parties, seeking their replies over the plea.
The PTI lawmakers had tendered their resignations en masse after the Imran Khan-led government was ousted via a no-confidence motion in April of last year.
The PTI had claimed resignations were accepted by former deputy speaker Qasim Suri in absence of a speaker after Asad Qaiser’s resignation.
Speaker Ashraf, after his election, approved the resignations of 11 PTI lawmakers in July 2022. He had stalled the process stating the remaining lawmakers would be summoned individually for verification.
However, contrary to his stance, he quickened the process once PTI in January announced its return to the assembly and “test” the PM through a confidence vote.
The PTI resignations were accepted by NA Speaker Ashraf in four stages: 11 in the first phase, 35, 34, and 43 in the second, third, and fourth phases, respectively.
ECP has so far announced by-elections on 33, and 31 constituencies on March 16 and March 19, respectively. However, the by-polls on the 43 constituencies were yet to be announced.