‘Delaying Oath-Taking on Reserved Seats’: PHC serves contempt notices to KP speaker, deputy speaker

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Wednesday issued contempt of court notices to the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Assembly speaker and deputy speaker for “not administering the oath to lawmakers elected on women and minorities reserved seats.”

A two-member PHC bench, comprising Justice SM Atiq Shah and Justice Syed Arshad Ali, heard the contempt petition against KP Assembly Speaker Babar Saleem Swati and Deputy Speaker Ms Suriya Bibi.

The PHC bench issued the notice to the respondents and sought their response at the next hearing.

During the hearing, the petitioner took the stance that the speaker and deputy did not administer oath to the elected members on reserved seats despite court order.

The petitioner contended that the speaker and the deputy speaker had violated the court orders, demanding contempt proceedings against them.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) postponed the Senate elections in KP, citing delay in the administration of oath to the members on reserved seats.

KP Election Commissioner Shamshad Khan arrived at the assembly premises and requested a list of sworn-in MPAs from the assembly staff. Simultaneously, the opposition lodged a petition with the ECP, urging the postponement of Senate elections in the province.

Despite the stage being set and the election staff prepared, the K-P Senate polls failed to kick off at the promised hour of 9 am.

Subsequently, the ECP issued a notification announcing the postponement of polls, citing its earlier order from March and the upheld decision of the Peshawar High Court (PHC).

The notification highlighted the failure to administer oaths, as required under Article 218(3) of the Constitution, resulting in an incomplete electoral college.

KP Assembly Speaker Babar Saleem Swati had filed a review petition against the recent directive from the PHC.

The court had instructed him to administer oaths to opposition MPAs elected to reserved seats, setting the stage for a legal battle amid political tensions.

In response to the PHC’s March 27 verdict, Speaker Swati, represented by Advocate Ali Azim Afridi, lodged the petition.

In the review plea, Swati contended that the high court order failed to grasp the factual context regarding the requisitioned session. It highlighted the absence of information regarding the summoning of a session for the upcoming Senate elections or the inclusion of the matter in question as Agenda Item No. 1 of the first business day.

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