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ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has stated that the conditions in Article 3 of the Constitution Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) are violative of Articles 17, 20 and 25 of 1973 Constitution therefore it is not entitled to any reserved seats for women and in particular for non-Muslims.

The ECP on Saturday filed reply on the SIC appeal before the Supreme Court against the judgment of the Peshawar High Court.

A full court, headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, will resume hearing on SIC appeal for not allocating women and minorities reserved seats to it in the National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies from tomorrow (Monday).

SIC in assemblies: Reserved seats reallocation issue still remains unresolved

The ECP reply stated that there is no lawful basis, in the facts and circumstances of the titled appeal for any reserved seats for women or non-Muslim to be left vacant.

The constitution does not envisage nor permit this. The said seats have been allotted by the ECP as per the constitution and the Elections Act.

The SIC is clearly non-eligible for reserved seats for women and non-Muslims on account of it not being a ‘political party’ with the meaning of Articles 51(6)(d & e) and 106(3)(c). It informed that Article 3 of the Constitution of SIC restricts the membership of SIC to only adult Muslims, and places further three conditions of a like nature to the membership. The conditions in Article 3 of SIC constitution are violative of Article 17, 20, and 25 of the Constitution of Pakistan, therefore SIC clearly is not entitled to any reserved seats for women and in particular for non-Muslims.

The Commission further contended that the SIC does not meet the conditions set out in Articles 51(6) and 106(3) of the constitution and the Sections 68 and 104 of the Elections Act, 2017, to get the reserved seats of women and non-Muslims in National and Provincial Assemblies.

Therefore, the SIC is clearly not eligible to be allot any reserved seats for women and non-Muslims. Accordingly, the order dated 01-03-24 of the ECP as well as the impugned judgment dated 25-03-24 of the Peshawar High Court are correct and do not suffer from any error or infirmity.

It stated that a ‘political party’ comprised only of ‘independent candidates’ who joined such political party pursuant to the provision of Articles 51(6)(d & e) and 106(3)(c) of the constitution read with Rule 92(6) of the Election Rules is not a ‘political party’ within the contemplation and scope of Article 51(6) and Article 106(3).

The scheme of the constitution and the Election Act envisage and recognise only three classes of ‘contesting candidates’ in the general elections; a) candidate contesting on general seats under a common election symbol; b) candidates contesting elections on general seats as ‘independent candidates’ and allotted symbol from the pool for independent candidates; c) candidates contesting elections on reserved seats for women or non-Muslims.

It stated that the moment a candidate contesting for a general seats fails to submit a ‘Party Affiliation Certificate’ for allotment by the returning officer of the common election symbol of the relevant political party within the period prescribed by the ECP in the Election Programme, such candidate losses all the characteristics of being a ‘member’ of such ‘enlisted contesting political party’.

This is a fundamental feature of the scheme of the constitution and the Election Act.

There is no basis for reading in or creating any such fourth class of ‘X-Party Backed Candidates’.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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Aizaz Jun 23, 2024 09:56am
Election commmisiionn of Pakistan has no authority to interpret the constitution according to their whims.
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KU Jun 23, 2024 11:10am
If there was a doubt about democracy in Pakistan, mysterious tail-wagging interpretations of law by ECP confirms that democracy is notion for being relevant. What a shame n embarrassment by primates.
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Ch K A Nye Jun 23, 2024 07:33pm
ECP is desperately following orders from their Master to make sure that the Ladlas stay in power.
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