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CJP: all issues could have been resolved if intra-party elections were held to address the concerns within the political parties

The Supreme Court of Pakistan adjourned the hearing on reserved seats on Tuesday, with a full-court bench led by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa.

During the proceedings, the Chief Justice lamented that all the issues could have been avoided if the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had held its intra-party elections. Justice Muneeb, however, pointed out that the Election Commission’s decision to remove the bat symbol from the party had set off a chain of errors.

The bench consisted of 12 judges, including Justices Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Munib Akhtar, and Yahya Afridi. Justice Musarrat Hilali was absent due to illness. The proceedings were livestreamed on the Supreme Court’s YouTube channel and will resume on June 24.

On Monday, the lawyer for the SIC presented his arguments, and the SC noted that the people of Pakistan had voted for individuals nominated by a party.

Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail questioned why independent candidates who won seats on the PTI platform did not join PTI instead of forming their own group. He also expressed regret that PTI had created unnecessary hype over the denial of their election symbol, which had misled both voters and party members.

During the hearing, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail questioned the candidates who joined the SIC, asking whether they had submitted any certificates showing their affiliation with their original party at the time of nomination filing. He wondered how these candidates could now claim to be independent, given their previous affiliation.

Citing Section 66 of the Elections Act, 2017, Justice Mandokhail sought clarification on the Election Commission’s authority to declare a candidate as independent when a party has issued a certificate of affiliation. He also asked senior counsel Faisal Siddiqui to explain whether a candidate can expel themselves from a party after filing nomination papers, and whether the party can expel a candidate after they win the election.

The judge emphasized that these questions need answers. In response, Mr. Siddiqui argued that once the ECP recognizes the SIC as a political party, it cannot deny them reserved seats.

Justice Akhtar observed that the returned candidates were initially PTI candidates who were forced to become independent due to the ECP’s series of errors in law.

The case was filed after the ECP ruled that the Sunni Ittehad Council was not eligible for reserved seats and instead distributed them to other parties.

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