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Supreme Court Criticizes Election Commission for Denying Reserved Seats of PTI

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The Supreme Court recently delved into the case concerning the allocation of reserved seats in the assemblies for women and minorities. Justice Munib Akhtar addressed what he deemed a “cascading series of errors of law” committed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). His criticism centred on the ECP’s actions, which, according to Justice Akhtar, compelled PTI-backed candidates to assume the status of independents.

Justice Akhtar highlighted the predicament of PTI-backed candidates, emphasizing that they were forced by the ECP’s legal errors to adopt independent status despite being PTI candidates. The issue at hand revolved around the denial of reserved seats to these candidates after they sought shelter under the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), following the denial of their party’s electoral symbol, ‘bat’, by an earlier Supreme Court ruling.

A 4-1 verdict in March by the ECP had held that the SIC was ineligible to claim quota for reserved seats due to purported legal defects and violation of a mandatory provision. The ECP subsequently redistributed the seats among other parliamentary parties, prompting the PTI to reject the verdict as unconstitutional. The subsequent legal proceedings and suspensions of victory notifications further complicated the matter.

During the recent hearing, the justices scrutinized various aspects of the case, with Justice Mandokhail and Justice Shah weighing in on the controversy. The hearing concluded with the court announcing the adjournment of the case to allow both sides to present their final arguments.

Advocate Faisal Siddiqi, representing SIC’s female candidates, resumed his arguments during the hearing, reinforcing the urgency of the issue at hand. The discussions also touched upon constitutional provisions, party distinctions, and the intricacies of election symbols.

The justices’ comments and inquiries reflected their deep engagement with the case, underscoring the complexity and importance of the matter. The legal intricacies and disputed interpretations of electoral laws emerged as central themes during the court proceedings. The hearing concluded with a commitment from the court to reconvene for the final arguments, indicating the depth of consideration given to the case.

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