The Peshawar High Court building. — PHC website/File
The Peshawar High Court building. — PHC website/File
  • “It is the members’ right to be sworn in,” Justice Shakeel says.
  • Article 65 of Constitution mandates oath-taking: advocate general.
  • Governor can’t summon session without consulting govt: Justice Attique

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) Wednesday reserved its verdict on the pleas seeking timely oath-taking of members on the reserved seats.

The development comes as a two-member PHC bench comprising Justice Attique Shah and Justice Shakeel Ahmad heard various petitions about the swearing-in of members.

Oath-taking on reserved seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been subjected to much 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.

On Monday, opposition parties including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) had moved the PHC seeking timely oath-taking of members linking it to their ability to participate in the upcoming Senate elections.

The issue has become crucial for both the ruling and opposition parties as it will play an important role in the Senate polls slated for April 2 for filling 11 seats from the province.

The Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), which has a clear majority in the house, is planning to delay the oath-taking, at least till the Senate polls.

With the existing strength of the assembly, the ruling party can win most of the Senate seats in all categories from the province.

On the other hand, the opposition parties want the 24 MPAs elected on reserved seats to be administered oath before the Senate polls to get the desired number of seats in the upper house of parliament.

Today’s hearing

During the hearing today, Justice Shakeel Ahmed questioned whether the speaker was refusing to administer the oath.

To this, KP Assembly Speaker Babar Saleem Swati’s lawyer replied in the negative stressing that for the first time, the governor’s orders regarding the summoning of the assembly session came via the opposition leader.

On Justice Attique Shah’s query whether the governor’s orders have been challenged, the counsel, once again, replied in the negative.

He also further stressed that the speaker can only issue the summons for the assembly when one-fourth of the members submit such a request.

On the issue of whether the governor has the authority to summon the session, the court was apprised that Article 109 of the Constitution confers the said official to summon the assembly session.

Furhtermore, the court stressed that the members are administered their oaths in the assembly session. However, Justice Attique highlighted that neither the president nor the governors can summon an assembly session without consulting with the government first.

Presenting his arguments in the case, the advocate general underscored that Article 65 of the Constitution mandates the oath-taking of members with the third schedule linking it to the assembly session.

“It is the members’ right to be sworn in as they have already been notified,” Justice Ahmed said while lamenting the delay in the oath-taking ceremony.

“It seems that the [assembly] session won’t be summoned till April 2,” he added.

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