ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will wrap up the case on PTI’s dissident MNAs within 30 days, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja said Thursday.
Raja made the comments as a three-member bench of the election commission heard the reference filed for the disqualification of 20 dissident MNAs under Article 63(A), while the body also reserved the verdict on a plea that the ECP could not hear the references as it was incomplete following the retirement of two of its members.
At the outset of the hearing, the chief election commissioner said that the body would call in every dissident member and hear their side of the story.
Objections over incomplete commission
Once the proceedings began, dissident MNA Noor Alam Khan’s counsel told the three-member bench that his client neither resigned from his party nor did he join another political party at the time of the no-confidence motion.
“Also, this commission is incomplete and hence, it cannot hear this case. A similar case was brought before the ECP in 2015 and, at that time, the election commission had ordered that only a complete commission could hear such cases,” he told the bench.
Noor Alam’s counsel Anwar raised objections as two members of the election commission — out of the total four — retired following the completion of their tenures.
“Only a complete commission can decide the case of dissident MNAs,” the lawyer said.
‘They can hear other cases, not this one’
For his part, PTI’s lawyer — the party that has taken up the case with the ECP against its members for allegedly crossing the floor during the no-confidence motion — said the ECP is bound to decide the case within 30 days once it receives the declaration against MNAs.
The PTI lawyer also raised objections over Noor Alam’s counsel’s reservations and said that his demands were not in line with the constitution.
At this, Noor Alam’s counsel said he only contested that an incomplete commission could not hear the reference filed seeking the disqualification of dissident MNAs.
“They can hear other cases, not this one […] and the reason for this commission being incomplete is that political leaders do not communicate with one another,” he said.
‘Got to know about show-cause notice via TV’
Meanwhile, dissident PTI MNA Ramesh Kumar — who was present at the hearing in a personal capacity — said he got to know that he was served a show-cause notice through the television, claiming he did not receive the letter.
“Despite this, I replied to it,” he said while referring to the response wherein the dissident PTI members had told their party leadership that they had done nothing wrong.
Kumar said he mentioned in the response that he was a PTI worker and followed the party’s policy.
After hearing the arguments, the chief election commissioner said National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf should submit his response in this regard.
“The commission holds a fair hearing. The speaker can take a copy of the reference and submit his response on May 6. We will wrap up the case in 30 days,” he said.
The CEC then postponed the hearing till May 6.