- PTI dissident lawmakers term the reference “baseless, unsubstantiated and vague”.
- Raise questions about composition of ECP, saying an incomplete commission cannot decide the case.
- ECP directs parties to present their arguments; adjourns the hearing till May 10.
ISLAMABAD: The PTI’s dissident lawmakers questioned the grounds for declarations and termed the reference “baseless, unsubstantiated and vague in the material” in their replies to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), The News reported Saturday.
While presenting their replies to the ECP, the PTI MNAs insisted they are still part of the party and questioned the grounds for declarations and references seeking their disqualification.
During the hearing held on Friday, they submitted their replies, mostly based on common grounds, with the ECP as per its earlier direction and contended they had neither resigned from the PTI nor had joined any other political party and not even violated the party policy.
The dissident legislators, against whom the PTI’s leadership had rushed references for their disqualification, said in their replies: “The declaration and the reference are baseless, unsubstantiated and vague in the material. It has been actuated by bad faith in order to suppress a voice of dissent within the party lines.
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“Such actions are tantamount to converting the party into an authoritarian group commanded in a dictatorial mindset of one individual. This further tends to infringe the right to express the opinion of members within the party discipline. In the instant case, not a speck of evidence has been brought forth to demonstrate that the declaration and the reference are sustainable on any of the touchstones mentioned in Article 63A (1)(a) of the Constitution.”
The dissident lawmakers pointed out that the allegations were vague, inchoate and flimsy, adding: “These allegations also pertain to alleged conduct and actions outside the precinct of the Parliament, therefore, cannot be made the basis for setting up a case in the realm of Article 63-A(1)(a) of the Constitution. These are mere assumptions and supposition and anything resting on surmises and conjectures deserves a summary rejection. The instant case is a glaring example of frivolousness, which is liable to be rejected summarily.”
During the hearing, it was also emphasised that the reference and the declaration do not fulfil the mandatory requirements couched in Article 63-A of the Constitution and that the declaration was liable to be set aside and consequently the reference merits rejection.
Moreover, one dissident member raised a question about the composition of the ECP, saying an incomplete commission cannot decide the case. A similar argument was made during the initial hearing before the ECP.
The commission resumed hearing on the disqualification references against 46 PTI dissident MNAs and MPAs. The reference against 26 members of the Punjab Assembly was sent by its Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi.
PTI’s lawyer Faisal Chaudhry requested the ECP bench for time to read the dissident members’ replies, stating that he would begin arguments after reading all of the statements. To this, Balochistan member of the ECP Shah Muhammad Jatoi reminded him that the commission was to decide on the matter by May 14.
At this, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja emphasised the fact that in either case, the arguments should be completed by Tuesday to ensure the availability of time for decision-making. Afterwards, the ECP directed the parties to present their arguments and adjourned the hearing of the case till May 10.
‘Sufficient material available’
Talking to the journalists later, Faisal Chaudhry claimed there was sufficient material available to refute the claims made by the dissident MNAs, who can be disqualified for life over filing false affidavits.
He recalled that PTI lawmaker Faisal Vawda had also been disqualified on similar grounds, adding that these MNAs will not be able to get away with the references.
About references against the members of the Punjab Assembly, he said it was an open and shut case and contended the Punjab government was hanging by a thread.