LHC Justice Shahid Karim declares acceptance of resignations of PTI’s 72 MNAs from Punjab by NA Speaker & ECP ‘invalid’
Justice Shahid Karim says he will fix time frame for PTI MNAs to appear before NA Speaker for verification of their resignations
Says ecision of the Speaker NA Raja Pervez Ashraf will be final
LAHORE, May 19 (SABAH)
The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday declared “null and void” the acceptance of the resignations of 72 Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Members of the National Assembly from Punjab including Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Fawad Ahmed Chaudhry, Hammad Azhar, Riaz Fatyana and Shafqat Mahmood.
The petition against the acceptance of the resignations was filed by former MNA Riaz Fatyana and was heard by Justice Shahid Karim of the LHC.
During the hearing, Justice Shahid Karim declared that the acceptance of the resignations by the NA Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was “invalid”. Justice Shahid Karim in verbal order said that he will fix timeframe for the PTI MNAs in his written order to appear before the Speaker National Assembly Raja Pervez Ashraf for verification of their resignations. Justice Shahid Karim said that the decision of the Speaker NA Raja Pervez Ashraf will be final.
Justice Shahid Karim observed that if the PTI MNAs did not appear before the speaker then the notification issued by speaker regarding their resignations will be restored.
A court had directed the 72 members to appear before the NA speaker to withdraw their resignations and instructed the NA speaker to take a decision after hearing all the members again.
Speaking to media personnel outside the LHC, PTI lawyer Senator Barrister Syed Ali Zafar said that the court had given a “historic decision”. “With this decision, the [country’s] political crisis will also be resolved,” he declared.
He said that the court had accepted the petition against the de-notification of PTI MNA, who would now appear before the speaker.
He further added that after appearing in the inquiry, the MNAs would retract their resignations.
“Once the ECP’s de-notification is retracted, these MNA’s will be able to join the National Assembly,” he shared.
He further said that with the reversal of the resignations, PTI Chairman Imran Khan would be able to “play his role for the nation as the opposition leader in Parliament.”
“It is hoped that the speaker will complete the inquiry as per the law and allow the PTI MNAs to return [to the assembly],” he said.
The former MNA Riaz Fatyana , while addressing the media outside the provincial top court said that the court’s decision was a “positive step towards the constitution and democracy”.
There is no democracy without opposition, Fatyana said, adding that the PTI’s return to Parliament would bring back “real democracy” to the country.
“Pervez Ashraf is the custodian of entire House and does not represent any party,” he said, adding, “[We have] pinned all our hopes on Raja Pervez Ashraf.”
The MNAs were among the lawmakers who had resigned after the PTI-led government was ousted via a no-confidence motion in April last year.
Back then, the PTI had claimed that resignations were accepted by former deputy speaker Qasim Suri in the absence of a speaker after Asad Qaiser’s resignation.
Speaker Ashraf, after his election, approved the resignations of 11 PTI lawmakers in July 2022. He had stalled the process stating the remaining lawmakers would be summoned individually for verification.
However, contrary to his stance, he quickened the process once PTI in January announced its return to the assembly and “test” the PM through a confidence vote.
The PTI resignations were accepted by NA speaker Ashraf in four stages: 11 in the first phase, while 35, 34, and 43 in the second, third, and fourth phases, respectively. However, several PTI lawmakers challenged the decision in the LHC. The high court, while suspending the ECP notification had also stayed the by-elections on 43 constituencies till further notice.