LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday annulled the National Assembly speaker’s notification accepting the resignations of 72 MNAs of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) including Fawad Chaudhry, Hammad Azhar, Shah Mehmood Qureshi and many others.
The court declaring the acceptance of resignations by the NA Speaker and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) as invalid asked the members to appear before the NA speaker to withdraw their resignations and directed the speaker to review his decision after affording an opportunity of personal hearing to all the members again.
The court was hearing the petitions of former MNA Riaz Fatyana, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Fawad Chaudhry, Shafqat Mehmood and others.
Barrister Ali Zafar presented arguments on behalf of the petitioners. He said the MNAs acted on the directions of the party after reaching an agreement with the opposition parties for holding of fresh elections so that a new government could be formed.
He said the petitioners withdrew their en masse resignations which was announced on television and also sent in writing to the NA speaker. However, he said, the speaker, for malafide reasons in order to stop one of the MNAs from becoming the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, and fulfilling their other constitutional and legal duties accepted their resignations.
The lawyer argued that the speaker cannot accept the resignations of any MNA without following the procedure provided in the Constitution which has also been upheld several times earlier by the Supreme Court and the high courts.
He pointed out that the en masse resignations could not be accepted and each MNA had to give an application in his own handwriting while the resignations must be voluntary. And for verification of these matters, a personal hearing of each MNA who desires to resign must be undertaken by the speaker, he added.
Barrister Ali Zafar said the speaker had told a delegation of the PTI that he will call everyone individually and then verify the resignations.
However, he said, the speaker after knowing the PTI lawmakers announced going back to the National Assembly, overruled his constitutional decision and decided to accept the resignations without calling the MNAs and verifying their resignation. However, he said, in an effort to debar one of the petitioners from becoming the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, the speaker issued a back-dated letter and accepted their resignations.
He; therefore, pleaded the court to declare the acceptance of resignations null and void. Following the speaker’s decision, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) de-notified 43 MNAs. Riaz Khan Fatyana and 42 other MNAs had filed the petition challenging the decisions of NA speaker and the ECP of accepting their en masse resignations.
PTI Senator Barrister Ali Zafar addressing media personals outside the LHC said that the court had given a historic decision. “With this decision, the country’s political crisis will also be resolved,” he added. After the court’s decision, he told the media that the PTI MNAs could now go back into the National Assembly and perform their constitutional duties.
He said that the court had accepted the petition against the de-notification of PTI MNA and added that after appearing before the speaker NA, the MNAs would retract their resignations. He said: “Once the ECP’s de-notification is retracted, these MNA’s will be able to join the National Assembly again.” He further said with the reversal of resignations, PTI Chairman Imran Khan would be able to “play his role for the nation as the opposition leader in Parliament”.
He hoped that the speaker will allow the PTI MNAs to return to the assembly. The former MNA Riaz Fatyana said that the court’s decision was a positive step towards the constitution and democracy. He said there is no democracy without opposition and added the PTI’s return to parliament would bring the real democracy back to the country.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023