LHC gives ECP till June 2 to decide on Punjab’s reserved seats

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The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to issue a ruling by June 2 with regard to the notification of five MPAs on reserved seats in the Punjab Assembly, a matter the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf alleges is being delayed.

The seats had fallen vacant earlier this month after a total of 25 PTI dissident lawmakers, which included five elected on seats reserved for women and minorities, were de-seated for backing PML-N’s Hamza Shehbaz in the Punjab chief minister’s election in April. They were officially de-notified by the ECP on May 23.

Following the development, the PTI had approached the court requesting it to direct the ECP to notify the five new MPAs and “summon [them] personally”. Yesterday the LHC sought a reply from the ECP today.

At the outset of the hearing on Tuesday, PTI lawyer Amir Saeed Rawn told the court that the electoral body was deliberately delaying the matter.

At this, LHC Chief Justice Ameer Bhatti inquired: “Why are you not processing [the request]? Where has the process been stopped?”

Hafiz Zeeshan Ashraf, ECP’s counsel, replied that the matter was in process. The electoral body, he continued, had received two requests, one from the PTI demanding the issuance of the notification and the other from PML-N pleading against it.

“We have issued notices to both the parties and a date has been fixed for hearing,” Ashraf added.

Subsequently, the court instructed the ECP to pass a verdict by June 2 “even if one of the parties does not appear” and adjourned the hearing.