Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf to challenge Peshawar court’s verdict on reserved seats in SC

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman, Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, on Thursday said his party will challenge the Peshawar High Court (PHC) verdict regarding reserved seats in the Supreme Court, ARY News reported.

Speaking to reporters outside the apex court, Gohar said they will request the Supreme Court to form a larger bench on the reserved seats matter. He said that a rally will be held in Islamabad on March 23 and the venue for the rally will be announced on Friday.

The PTI chief alleged further that attempts were being made to overturn the victories of party candidates through a recounting of votes, according to ARY News.

His announcement of a legal challenge comes after the Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Thursday dismissed petitions of the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) over reserved seats in assemblies.

A five-member bench of the high court gave a unanimous decision on the petition. Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim read the reserved verdict. During the hearing, Barrister Ali Zafar came to the rostrum and apologised for being absent from the hearing on Wednesday.

Zafar said the PTI’s electoral symbol ‘bat’ was taken before the election and the party’s candidates had to contest the election as independents, ARY News reported.

Asked about the number of seats in the National Assembly and provincial assemblies, the lawyer for the Sunni Ittehad Council lawyer said the PTI has 86 seats in the National Assembly, 90 seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 107 seats in Punjab, 9 seats in Sindh and one member in Balochistan Assembly.

“Overall, the SIC have 226 seats in assemblies and it is entitled for 78 reserved seats”, he said, adding, “The election commission kept us aside and granted reserved seats to remaining political parties.”

“Some political parties requested to the ECP to grant these seats to us, as it was a vacant plot of land and someone come and encroaches it,” ARY News quoted him as saying further.

Quoting Article 17 of the country’s Constitution, Zafar said each citizen has a right to join and form a party, adding, “If a party formed, it could contest election and form government. We are entitled to all these rights under Article 17.”

He added that the Election Commission of Pakistan has been confused over the difference between the parliamentary party and political party.

During the hearing, Justice Shakeel Ahmed said, ‘The law uses the word ‘secure’…you didn’t secure the seats.”

Justice Syed Arshad Ali said, “Your case of the Sunni Ittehad Council, the PTI joined it, both of them didn’t contest the election. The reserved seats can be secured when the political parties had won the seats”, according to the report.

He said the PTI had time to hold the intra-party polls after the Supreme Court’s decision but it did not.

To that, Ali Zafar said, “We conducted the intra-party election but the Election Commission has still not accepted it.” 

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