Security personnel stand guard at the headquarters of the Election Commission of Pakistan in Islamabad on September 21, 2023. — AFP
Security personnel stand guard at the headquarters of the Election Commission of Pakistan in Islamabad on September 21, 2023. — AFP
  • Assembly secretary says speaker never refused to administer oath.
  • Act of KP governor’s convening session was illegitimate, he says.
  • ECP DG law says electoral body can instruct on taking oath.

PESHAWAR: Members of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly elected on reserved seats on Tuesday urged the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to defer the Senate elections until they are sworn in. 

A five-member bench, headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, heard the petition filed by the newly-elected women and minority MPAs, against the denial of oath-taking. 

The newly-elected members appeared before the ECP bench in Islamabad. The KP Assembly secretary was also present on this occasion.

During the hearing, complainants’ counsel Shah Khawar said the ECP issued notifications for the female members on March 4, so the KP speaker should have taken oath from them after that. 

The KP Assembly speaker was bound by the constitution and law to convene a session and take oath from them, he maintained.

The chief election commissioner asked the lawyer how the ECP could give instructions to the KP Assembly speaker. The ECP also inquired the KP Assembly representative why the newly-elected MPAs were not being sworn in.

In his reply, the secretary said the speaker never refused to administer them oath, nevertheless the act of KP governor’s convening the session was “illegitimate”. 

Earlier, the KP governor wrote a letter to summon the assembly session on the opposition’s request, upon which the KP government raised objections.

The assembly secretary said legal interpretation for the governor’s convening a session was being carried out. 

They would see if the governor could himself convene a session without a summary or not, he said, adding that the MPAs-elect would be sworn in when the assembly session is called.

ECP member Ikramullah asked what the consequence would be if the KP Assembly speaker did not accept the top electoral body’s order. He questioned whether the election commission even had the authority to take action against the speaker if he denied acting upon the ECP order.

Khawar replied the ECP could not intervene in assembly’s internal proceedings.

The ECP director general for law responded it was the commission’s responsibility to hold polls and the matter of taking oath following the elections also lied within the election body’s jurisdiction.

He added that electoral body could issue instructions for taking oath of the members and could intervene if the speaker delayed fulfilling his responsibility in this regard.

After hearing the arguments, the ECP reserved its verdict in the case.

Opposition approaches PHC 

A day ago, the opposition parties in the KP Assembly also moved the Peshawar High Court (PHC), seeking the court’s intervention on the issue of oath-taking of members on the reserved seats.

The petition, filed by members of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), had urged the court to ensure that the members elected on the reserved seats were sworn in to be able to cast their votes in the upcoming Senate elections.

“Failure to administer the oath to members elected on the KP reserved reflects ‘mal-intent’,” the plea read, further praying the court to postpone the Senate polls if the elected members were not sworn in.

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