ISLAMABAD–The Islamabad High Court (IHC) today disposed of a petition calling for acceptance of resignations of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) members in the National Assembly.
Over the last seven months, the top leadership of the PML-N repeatedly asked the estranged PTI parliamentarians to return to the parliament. However, upon their return on the National Assembly on Monday, the veteran politician, filed a petition on April 6 in the Islamabad High Court seeking the disqualification of the PTI lawmakers.
In the petition, former senator Shah adopted the stance that the MNAs did not belong in the National Assembly and had no right to attend the parliamentary session last Monday.
He contended that some seven months ago, these MNAs had resigned from the National Assembly and their return was unconstitutional. He stated before the court that the PTI MNAs had voluntarily tendered their resignations and the constitution is clear on the issue – once an MNA resigns from the assembly, he no longer holds his seat.
However, the National Assembly speaker is responsible for verifying whether the resignation was submitted voluntarily or under duress.
Zafar Ali Shah told last week that the MNAs had sent a loud and clear message that they have resigned their seats and would not return to the house.
The resignations were widely talked about in the media and the MNAs appeared on television, testifying that they have resigned.
“I don’t know what ambiguity the speaker finds in the matter,” he had said.
The case was heard by Justices Athar Minallah and Aamir Farooq who comprise the divisional bench. The court dismissed the petition, and after the hearing stood by their decision. The IHC’s justification for the ruling is that the resignations were voluntary, and determining their validity is the National Assembly speaker’s job.
The PTI resigned from the parliament last year protesting alleged rigging in the general elections 2013, initially demanding the prime minister’s resignation and later a judicial commission to probe the allegations.
The National Assembly speaker, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, showed reluctance in accepting the resignations tendered by the PTI’s lawmakers.
The PTI called off the protest demonstrations in December 2014 but made their return to the National Assembly contingent upon the formation of the judicial commission.
The PTI lawmakers returned to the assembly once the details of the Judicial Commission were finalised after long negotiations with the PML-N.
On April 6, they returned to a hostile environment in the assembly, facing strong reactions from the senior PML-N ministers as well as MNAs from other parties such as the MQM and JUI-F.
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