KP Assembly Speaker challenges PHC verdict to administer oaths to opposition MPAs

The ongoing dispute between Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Speaker Babar Saleem Swati and the Peshawar High Court (PHC) has escalated, with Swati challenging the court’s order to administer oaths to opposition MPAs elected to reserved seats.

At the heart of the matter is the disagreement between the opposition and the provincial government regarding the assembly session for the oath-taking of MPAs elected on reserved seats for women and minorities.

The controversy first arose last month when KP Governor Haji Ghulam Ali called for an assembly session on March 22. However, the provincial government deemed the move unconstitutional and against the rules, refusing to comply.

In response, opposition members protested, accusing the government of attempting to obstruct the participation of women and non-Muslim MPAs in the upcoming Senate polls.

Seeking resolution, more than a dozen opposition candidates, including six women MPAs-elect of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) and eight candidates from the PML-N and PPP, approached the PHC on March 25. The PHC, in a subsequent ruling on March 27, directed Swati to administer oaths to the MPAs-elect and facilitate their participation in the Senate elections scheduled for April 2.

Despite the court’s order, the assembly secretariat stated that it had not received government directives to convene a session for the oath-taking ceremony.

In response, Swati filed a review petition against the PHC’s verdict, arguing that the court had not considered the factual circumstances surrounding the assembly session requisitioned for the Senate elections.

Swati reiterated his stance outside the PHC, emphasising that no session had been summoned from their side, hence the inability to comply with the court order. He reaffirmed his commitment to the rule of law and expressed readiness to convene an assembly session if instructed by the court.

The uncertainty surrounding the Senate elections in the province persists, with Swati deferring to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for clarification on the matter.

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