SC reserves verdict in reserved seats case

ISLAMABAD   -   The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday reserved the judgment after hearing the arguments from respondents in an appeal of Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) regarding reserved seats.

A 13-member bench of the apex court, led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa, comprising Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Munib Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Amin-ud-Din Khan, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Syed Hassan Azhar Rizvi, Justice Ayesha Malik, Justice Shahid Waheed, Justice Irfan Saadat Khan and Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan, heard the case.

Barrister Salman Akram Raja and SIC’s Faisal Siddiqui presented their arguments before the court during the hearing which was live streamed on the website.

During hearing, Faisal Siddiqui argued that Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) participated in general elections of 2018 but didn’t win a single seat but it was given three reserved seats.

He said that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) didn’t take decision regarding BAP as per the law. He said that Jamiat Ulema e Islam (JUI-F) was also given reserved seats of minorities.

The Chief Justice inquired that whether only Sunni community was entitled to join the SIC to which the lawyer said that every Muslim individual could join it.

Faisal Siddiqui said that 30 reserved seats were given in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly in 2024. He said PML-N won two seats in KPK and given five reserved seats against it.

He said that whether a party with 18 general seats should be given 30 reserved seats.

Addressing the lawyer, Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa said: “According to your logic, you should get zero seats because SIC did not win any seat.” The CJP said “You are giving arguments in the case of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) but arguing against yourself.”

Faisal Siddiqui said that the reserved seats should be given to SIC which was in Parliament. Justice Athar Minallah remarked that it was important to make the elections transparent. “The situation is that a major political party got the vote which was excluded from the electoral process,” he said, adding “It is not about the political party but about the people’s right to vote.”

Justice Athar Minallah said that Hamid Raza was PTI’s nominee before the decision of the bat symbol, adding that the ECP misinterpreted the verdict, which led to the controversy.

Salman Akram Raja, the lawyer of independents, argued that the candidates associated with PTI were declared as independent. He claimed that the ECP didn’t present the complete documents to the court.

The lawyer said that the independent candidates joined the SIC within three days after which the SIC became a parliamentary party. He said that the ECP told the candidates that the PTI tickets would not be accepted after which the ticket of PTI Nazriati was submitted. “We had no other option,” he said.

He said “We wanted to give the people the right to vote for whichever party they want.”

The CJP remarked that first the candidate gave a declaration of PTI Nazriati, then PTI and now they were asking to join the SIC. “Tell us which party you belong to,” he questioned. Salman Akram Raja Advocate said that Kanwal Shuzab was from PTI and would join the SIC. After the lawyers concluded their arguments, the court reserved its judgment into the case.