ECP rules SIC not entitled to avail special seats

Election Commission rejects petition n 4-1 majority decision says Sunni Ittehad Council failed to submit priority lists well in time n Reserved seats for women, minorities shall not remain vacant and will be allotted to political parties by proportional representation process: Verdict.

ISLAMABAD   -  The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday rejected the Sunni Ittehad Council’s (SIC) plea for allocation of minority and women reserve seats in national and provincial assemblies.

A five-member ECP bench, headed by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja, firmly stated that Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) is not entitled to have reserved seats for women and minorities.

The Election Commission also stated that Sunni Ittehad Council is not entitled to avail special seat allocations for women and minorities. The ECP reached its decision with a 4-1 ratio, with member Punjab Babar Hasan Bharwana, submitting dissent in a note. The SIC submitted a plea in ECP claiming the allocation of seats based on inclusion of PTI-endorsed candidates within their party. This plea, conveyed by SIC Chair­man Sahibzada Hamid Raza through a PTI representative, was submitted to the elector­al watchdog. Following the Supreme Court’s ruling declaring their intra-party polls “un­constitutional” and stripping them of the electoral symbol of the ‘bat’, PTI candidates participated in the elections as independents.

According to the Constitution, reserved seats are assigned to political parties accord­ing to the number of their representatives elected to general seats. Prior to the Febru­ary 8 elections, the ECP had already received lists of candidates from political parties for this purpose. Creating ripples in the political arena, the top election regulatory body [ECP] unanimously announced rejecting a peti­tion filed by the Sunni Ittehad Council [SIC] seeking the allocation of reserved seats. The PTI backed MNAs, in the inaugural session, had been demanding the chair to award re­served seats to Sunni Ittehad Council [SIC] as per the rule and business. The SIC was joined by PTI-backed MNAs after winning February 08 polls because of not having election sym­bols. These members had asked the electoral watchdog demanding allocation of reserved seats in the national assembly. The SIC had asked to the ECP seeking allocation of re­served seats in the national as well as three provincial assemblies. The electoral watch­dog, after hearing arguments from all sides, had reserved its verdict on Wednesday, a day before the maiden session of the National As­sembly, allowing the controversy to simmer.

In an issued verdict, the ECP said the SIC is not entitled to claim quota for reserved seats due to having “non curable legal de­fects and violation of a mandatory provi­sion of submission of party list for reserved seats which is the requirement of law”. “The seats in the National Assembly shall not re­main vacant and will be allotted by propor­tional representation process of political parties on the basis of seats won by political parties,” the order said.

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