Islamabad: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has fixed July 17 as date for by-election for seats left vacant after de-notification of the dissident Members of the Punjab Assembly (MPAs) belonging to former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
As many as 25 MPAs had ‘crossed floor’ and voted for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)-led alliance Hamza Shehbaz Sharif last month against the party line and consequently lost their seats.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan had in a landmark decision on May 17 declared them not only de-seated but also held that their votes would not be counted.
Twenty of these dissenting IMPs were directly elected while five defecting members were non-elected and were nominated by the party on the basis of its numerical strength.
According to the schedule announced by the ECP for by-elections to 20 Punjab Assembly seats, the Returning Officers of relevant constituencies will issue a public notice of the bypolls on May 31 and nominations will be received between June 4 and 7.
Lists of the nominated candidates will be issued on June 8 and scrutiny of the nomination papers will be held by June 11. The last date for filing of appeals against acceptance or rejection of nominations by the returning officers will be June 15 and the appellate tribunal will decide the same on June 21.
The Election Commission’s notification says the revised lists of candidates will be published on June 22 and candidates might withdraw their nominations by June 23, while election symbols will be allotted to the contesting candidates on June 24.
The seats to which the bypolls will be held include PP (Province Punjab)-7 Rawalpindi-II; PP-83 Khushab-II, PP-90 Bhakkar-II, PP-97 Faisalabad-I, PP-125 Jhang-II, PP-127 Jhang-IV, PP-140 Sheikhupura-VI, PP-158 Lahore-XV, PP-167, 168 and 170, Lahore-XXIV, XXIV and XXVI; PP-202 Sahiwal-VII, PP-217 Multan-VII, PP-224 Lodhran-I, PP-228 Lodhran-V, PP-237 Bahawalnagar-I, PP-272 and 273, Muzaffargarh-V, VI, PP-282 Layyah-III and PP-288 Dera Ghazi Khan-IV.
The ECP had on May 23, formally de-notified 25 dissident MPAs who had voted for PML-N’s Hamza Shehbaz against their party’s line in the Punjab chief minister’s election.
Court imposes Rs100,000 fine on Hamza
The Lahore High Court (LHC) has imposed a fine of PKR 100,000 (Dh1,813) each on Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz, Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari and others for not complying with the court’s order.
LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti had sought replies by May 25 on different petitions filed for declaring the election of Chief Minister in the Punjab Assembly held on April 16 for the chief minister’s office in Punjab Assembly as null and void.
The LHC CJ had also sought the input of the respondent’s lawyers on “whether the Supreme Court’s decision about defecting lawmakers would have the retrospective effect”.
The petitions had been filed by the PTI’s lawmakers including Punjab Assembly Speaker Pervaiz Elahi.
However, the court was told on the date of hearing by Additional Advocate General Jawad Yaqoob that he was not well therefore he couldn’t submit his reply. A similar request was also made on Hamza’s behalf by his lawyer.
Elahi’s counsel Barrister Ali Zafar argued that the Hamza had lost the majority after the SC decision of de-seating 25 PTI MPAs who defected from the party’s policy.
Justice Bhatti remarked that the court had to see whether the apex court’s order had a retrospective effect or not and adjourned the hearing till May 30.