PML-N moves LHC against Sibtain’s election as PA speaker

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PML-N’s Saiful Malook Khokhar, who lost to PTI’s Sibtain Khan in the contest for the Punjab Assembly speaker Friday’s night, challenged his rival’s election in the Lahore High Court on Saturday, maintaining that it was held in an “illegal and unconstitutional manner”.

In Friday’s election Sibtain had stood victorious with 185 votes of the total 364, while Khokhar had managed to secure 175.

In a petition filed by Khokhar’s lawyer Mansoor Usman Awan on his behalf, the PML-N lawmaker argued that the “impugned” election of the Punjab Assembly speaker was held in violation of Article 226 of the Constitution as votes had not been cast through a secret ballot. “The ballot papers and counterfoils were serial numbered in such a manner that a choice exercised by each MPA could be identified by comparing the serial number on the ballot paper and serial number and signatures of MPAs on the counterfoils of the ballot papers. As a result, the secrecy of the ballot could easily be breached,” Khokhar contended.

“That non-holding of the election of the speaker through a secret ballot is blatantly unconstitutional, illegal and without jurisdiction,” the petition read.

Khokhar further pointed out that under the Constitution and Rules of Procedure of the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab, 1997, the province’s governor was to decide the date for the speaker’s election after the position fell vacant.

“It is the prerogative of the governor to fix a date for the election of a new speaker if the assembly is in session, as soon as possible during that session, and if the assembly is not in session, at the commencement of the next session,” his petition stated.

Instead, he said, permission was sought to move a resolution for suspending the relevant assembly rules, especially the governor’s powers to summon a session for the speaker’s election, in the house the panel of chairmen — whose members presides over proceedings in the absence of the speaker and deputy speaker — granted the permission. Highlighting that the panel of chairmen was from the treasury benches, Khokhar said the resolution for suspending the assembly rules was then “quickly” adopted by treasury members.

On these grounds, Khokhar urged the court to declare the speaker’s election “void” and issue directives for holding the poll, “strictly in accordance with the provisions of Article 226 of the Constitution”.He further prayed the court to restrain Sibatin from “exercising powers and functions of the speaker” during the pendency of his petition.PML-N wants case be taken up before deputy speaker’s election.

Meanwhile, at a press conference earlier today, PML-N leaders Rana Mashhood and Atta Tarar demanded that the decision on the PA speaker’s election should be taken before the election of the deputy speaker.

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