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SC moved to order independents to join party within three days

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ISLAMABAD: A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court to bind the elected independent candidates to join a political party within three days of the official notification of their victory.

The petition has been filed two days after the general elections, the unofficial result of which shows PTI-backed independent candidates in clear majority in the National, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies so far.

The application, filed by Advocate Moulvi Iqbal Haider on Saturday, argued that part of the national or provincial assemblies as an independent member should be unfair, illegal, unconstitutional and contrary to the parliamentary form of governance.

Interestingly, Mr Haider has a reputation for being a habitual litigant and had been barred from filing petitions in the Supreme Court in the past. In 2022, he was fined Rs100,000 by then IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah for filing a frivolous petition seeking the trial of former prime minister Imran Khan and others over the disclosure of the cipher contents.

In the fresh petition, Mr Haider highlighted that around 17,816 candidates participated in the Feb 8 general election, of which around 11,785 contested as independent candidates.

He urged the court to declare that assembly members elected as independent candidates are incompetent to participate in the process of reserved seat allocation unless they join a political party, the petitioner pleaded while citing Article 51 of the Constitution.

The said article outlines the procedure for determining the number of National Assembly seats and the functioning of the house.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) should be ordered to declare that the seats won by independent members will become vacant if they fail to join the political party in time. The plea also sought orders for the ECP to issue notification of successful independent candidates with direction to join the political party within three days and issue notification of those members who join a party.

The petition argued that there is no mechanism in the Constitution allowing independent members — who don’t join a political party within the prescribed three-day period — to form the government.

Therefore, there is “a great apprehension that a constitutional crisis may occur” that might disrupt the democratic system.

According to Mr Haider, there is an imminent danger of a “constitutional crisis” if independent candidates do not join the political party since provisions of Article 63-A will not apply to them.

The said article defines the process of disqualifying an assembly member who violates the party’s policy.

The petitioner claimed that independent members may be able to participate in the elections of the speaker and the prime minister “by dictating their own terms and conditions to the political parties” in a position of forming the government. The members will also “take advantage” of their position by threatening to move a no­ confidence motion against the sitting prime minister or “dictating terms” during the enactment of laws.

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