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PML-N, PPP, JUI-F Oppose SIC’s Plea Against PHC Verdict on Reserved Seats

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) opposed the Sunni Ittehad Council’s (SIC) petition against the Peshawar High Court’s (PHC) verdict that denied it reserved seats for women and minorities. This development occurred as the 13-member full court bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, took up SIC’s plea challenging the PHC’s judgment.

On May 6, a three-member Supreme Court bench, led by Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, suspended the PHC verdict and referred the matter to a larger bench due to its constitutional implications. The case reached the Supreme Court after the PHC rejected SIC’s plea for reserved seats. SIC chief Sahibzada Hamid Raza and the KP Assembly Speaker had appealed against the PHC decision, seeking 67 women and 11 minority seats.

Following the February 8 elections, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) decided not to allocate reserved seats to SIC as it failed to submit its candidate list. The PHC upheld this decision. However, when challenged in the Supreme Court, the PHC order was suspended, leading the ECP to suspend the victory notifications of 77 lawmakers elected on these disputed seats.

SIC, led by Hamid Raza, gained prominence after PTI-backed independent candidates joined it post-elections, as PTI was deprived of its electoral symbol. PTI’s attempt to claim reserved seats was thwarted by the ECP, which cited legal defects and procedural violations.

In today’s hearing, Advocate Faisal Siddiqui represented SIC, while the advocate general represented Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. CJP Isa inquired about the opposing parties and beneficiaries involved in the case. Advocate Siddiqui identified the beneficiaries and detailed the disputed seats: 22 in the National Assembly and 55 in provincial assemblies. The CJP asked if any beneficiary parties supported SIC; PPP, PML-N, and JUI-F opposed SIC’s plea.

Justice Akhtar questioned the ECP’s logic, pointing out inconsistencies in recognizing SIC as a parliamentary party but denying it reserved seats. Justice Shah noted that ECP accepted candidates joining SIC but later denied reserved seats. Advocate Siddiqui argued that a party does not need to contest elections for reserved seats if independents join it.

The hearing was adjourned till 11:30 AM on Tuesday.

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