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ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has dismissed cases against 20 dissident MNAs of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), terming these cases “devoid of force,” which, the commission said, “cannot be entertained at this belated stage.”

“For the reasons recorded above, we are of the considered view that the applications of the petitioners/counsel for the party head are devoid of force and cannot be entertained at this belated stage and are hereby dismissed,” reads the four-page verdict issued by the three-member ECP bench on Wednesday.

Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja headed the bench that comprised Nisar Ahmed Durrani and Shah Muhammad Jatoi.

The verdict was reserved earlier in the day and announced later at 3pm.

“It is an admitted fact that we have received the declarations from the presiding officer (speaker National Assembly) in terms of Clause 3 of Article 63-A of the constitution on 11-04-2022, accompanied by a copy of declaration and a copy of show cause notice and no other supporting material/documents are enclosed,” the verdict read.

25 dissident Punjab MPAs: PTI’s plea seeking suspension of membership rejected by ECP

“Today, matter was fixed for final submissions on behalf of both the parties and counsel for the party head (PTI) has also submitted rejoinder against the replies of all the alleged defectors. From the date of submission of declaration i.e 11.04.2022 till date, the petitioner had ample time to move an application for additional documents. At this belated stage, counsel representing the party head (PTI) submitted abovementioned applications as an afterthought when only one day is left to decide the matter as provided under Article 63-A(3) of the constitution,” it said.

Second, the ECP order stated, it was the responsibility of the party head to make sure that all documents have been attached with the declaration and if the material was available with the party head, it should have been shared with the respondents, presiding officer and the commission but it was not done.

On April 24, PTI announced to hold countrywide protests outside the offices of ECP on April 25 against the “anti-PTI and biased” CEC. Resultantly, mammoth gatherings were held outside the electoral body’s offices on the given date across the country.

The same day (April 25), the ECP announced to summon 46 PTI dissident lawmakers—20 members National Assembly (MNAs) and Punjab Assembly’s 26 Members Provincial Assembly (MPAs)- for hearing their cases under Article 63-A.

The case against one PTI dissident MPA Javed Akhtar was dismissed on the grounds that he did not cast vote in the election of chief minister Punjab. The cases against the remaining 25 MPAs are pending in the ECP.

The dissident PTI MNAs have taken the stance that unlike the dissident party MPAs who voted in the CM Punjab election last month against the party’s direction, they did not participate in voting on the no-confidence motion against the then Prime Minister Imran Khan last month nor did they join any other political party.

Article 63-A deals with the defection of those lawmakers who vote against their party’s direction in the election of PM/CM, vote of confidence/vote of no-confidence, and money bill.

The ECP, under Article 63-A, is bound to decide the defection case(s) within 30 days of the receipt of related case(s).

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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