ISLAMABAD - A constitutional petition filed in the Supreme Court on Friday sought election on reserved seats in the National Assembly and the provincial assemblies through secret ballot under Article 226 of the Constitution.
There are 60 reserve seats for women in the National Assembly and 128 in the provincial assemblies; non-Muslims have 10 reserve seats in the National Assembly and 23 in the provincial assemblies.
Julius Salik, Nadir Ali Siddiqui advocate and Raja Shujaat Ali Abbasi filed the petition under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution, making the federation, through the Election Commission of Pakistan secretary, the Ministry of Law and Justice secretary, the Senate chairman and the National Assembly speaker respondents.
Women and non-Muslims are elected through proportional representation system of political parties’ lists of candidates specified in Article 51 (4) and Article 106 (3) (c) of the Constitution, read with Section 47A of the Representation of People’s Act 1976 on the basis of total number of seats won by each political party in the assemblies.
Article 51 (3) says that 272 Muslim members are to be elected by direct and free vote in accordance with the law and 60 seats are reserved for women and 10 seats for non-Muslims under Article 51 (4).
“The reserve seats are a burden on the national exchequer, against the democratic approach and exploitation of the entire women as they are selected by party leaderships without any constituency. In fact, they are employees of their parties, being under the influence of their party leaderships. The selection of such members is useless as they do not represent any constituency,” the petition said.
Likewise, the procedure of non-Muslims’ election is also undemocratic and against the preamble of the Constitution which says that adequate provision shall be made to safeguard the legitimate interests of minorities and depressed classes.
“If non-Muslims are selected by the party leaderships, they cannot represent their community,” the petitioners said and added reserve seats of women and non-Muslims were against the essence of democracy. “The respondents are violating provisions of Article 4 of the Constitution as Julius Salik, one the petitioners, has been deprived of his right to contest the election on minority seats as an independent candidate,” the petition said.