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PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Wednesday directed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Speaker Babar Saleem Swati to administer the oath to the lawmakers elected on reserved seats.

The decision was announced after a two-member PHC bench comprising Justice Attique Shah and Justice Shakeel Ahmad had reserved the verdict earlier today on a petition filed by the opposition parties in the provincial assembly regarding the swearing-in of the members.

Oath-taking on reserved seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been subject to controversy owing to the deadlock between the provincial government and opposition parties, wherein the former has objected to the KP governor’s decision to summon the assembly session upon the opposition’s request.

Earlier, during the hearing, Justice S.M. Atiq Shah inquired whether the Speaker is refusing to administer oath, to which the Speaker’s lawyer Ali Azim Afridi replied that it was not the case, adding that for the first time the Governor’s order comes on the request of the opposition leader rather through proper procedures.

Justice Atiq Shah asked if anyone had challenged the Governor’s order. To which Ali Azim Afridi Advocate replied that no one has challenged the governor’s order but on March 21, the secretary of the provincial assembly wrote a letter.

The lawyer of the opposition while giving arguments said that the High Court had already given a judgment regarding allotment of reserved seats, adding that in this context delaying the oath taking was also a violation of this decision of the larger bench. He said that if the Speaker was reluctant to administer an oath to the members, then the Governor could take the oath.

Justice Atiq Shah inquired whether it is not necessary to take the oath of the members in the House. To which the opposition lawyer replied that the oath taking could be done during the session to be convened for the Senate elections. He insisted that the governor has the power to convene the assembly session.

During the hearing, Advocate General Shah Faisal Atmankhil told the court that Article 65 says that when a member is elected, he will take oath and it is in the third schedule that the assembly will be in session. It has been defined by the Peshawar High Court in the case of Baldukumar and Speaker Asad Qaiser.

Justice Shakeel Ahmed remarked that the members who have been notified have the right to be sworn in.

The Advocate General replied that when the Chief Minister is not present or there is no confidence against him, then the Governor can convene the meeting under Article 109.

Justice Atiq Shah asked the Advocate General, how he was relying on the decision which the Supreme Court had called a bad law? To which the Advocate General said that this would not happen in future and he withdrew the case reference.

Later, after hearing the arguments of the parties, the Peshawar High Court reserved its decision.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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