No reserved seats for SIC, rules ECP

In a major setback for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) ruled on Monday against allocating reserved seats to the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) which is composed of independent candidates who won the election with PTI's support.

The decision, which was reserved last Wednesday after hearing arguments from all sides, was announced with a 4-1 majority by a five-member bench led by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja. ECP’s Punjab member, Hassan Bharwana, dissented with the majority verdict.

In its ruling, the ECP stated that the SIC was not entitled to reserved seats due to "non-curable legal defects and violation of the mandatory provision requiring the submission of party lists for reserved seats."

The Sunni Ittehad Council had filed four pleas with the ECP seeking reserved seats for minorities and women in the National Assembly and provincial assemblies of Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“The seats in the National Assembly shall not remain vacant and will be allotted through a proportional representation process based on seats won by political parties,” the order stated.Reacting to the ECP's judgment, PTI Senator Ali Zafar termed the verdict a blot on democracy and a violation of the constitution.

Speaking in the Senate, Zafar demanded the resignation of Sikandar Sultan Raja from the position of chief election commissioner and called for him to be tried under Article 6 of the constitution.

He emphasised the significance of reserved seat quotas for political parties, stating that lawmakers in the National Assembly elect the president, prime minister, speaker and deputy speaker.

The senator criticised the ECP for depriving PTI-SIC of its rightful share of reserved seats, calling the decision unconstitutional and undemocratic. He declared that his party would challenge the ECP's decision in court and reiterated his demand for the resignation of the entire ECP staff.

Zafar also called for the postponement of presidential and Senate elections until a court decision on reserved seats is reached.

Subsequently, the Senate session adjourned until Wednesday morning.

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