The Supreme Court will announce its long-awaited verdict tomorrow

The Supreme Court will announce its long-awaited verdict tomorrow

The full bench led by CJP Isa today held a second round of consultations on the reserved seats ruling, sources said

A police officer walks past the Supreme Court building in Islamabad, Pakistan, October 31, 2018. — Reuters
  • The full bench held a round of consultations on the reserved verdict: sources.
  • The Supreme Court has reserved its ruling on repealing the SIC Act until Tuesday.
  • The court, chaired by the CJP, will deliver a brief ruling on Friday at 9 a.m.

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court will announce its much-awaited verdict tomorrow (Friday) in a case related to the denial of reserved seats to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-backed Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), according to a list of cases released on Thursday.

The decision comes after the full bench of the Supreme Court held its second round of consultations on the reserved seats ruling on Thursday.

According to sources, a special meeting of the full bench of 13 judges of the country’s highest court was held under the chairmanship of Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa. All judges participated in the meeting.

The list of cases released after the meeting said a three-judge standing bench of the Supreme Court headed by CJP Isa will deliver a short ruling at 9 am on Friday (July 12) on the SIC petition challenging the Peshawar High Court (PHC) decision upholding the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) decision to deny reserved assembly seats to the PTI-backed legislators.

The Supreme Court adjourned its ruling on the SIC appeal on Tuesday after holding nine hearings during which all parties, including the federal government and the ECP, presented their arguments against the SIC application.

The full bench also comprises Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Amin-ud-Din Khan, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Athar Minallah, Justice Syed Hassan Azhar Rizvi, Justice Ayesha Malik, Justice Shahid Waheed, Justice Irfan Saadat Khan and Justice Naeem Akhtar Afghan.

What is a reserved seating case?

The issue of reserved seats first arose after more than 80 independent candidates backed by the PTI emerged victorious in the February 8 elections and joined hands with the SIC to contest seats reserved for minorities and women.

However, the party founded by Imran Khan suffered a setback when the ECP, citing non-presentation of the list of candidates, refused to allocate the reserved seats to the SIC.

The party then approached the PHC, which upheld the electoral body’s decision in the matter.

The SIC then moved the high court to set aside the PHC judgment and award 67 women and 11 minority seats in the assemblies.

The distribution of reserved seats holds significant significance as PTI-backed independent candidates, who constitute a majority in the opposition benches, lost as many as 77 reserved seats in the NA and provincial assemblies following the PHC verdict.

It is also to be noted that the PHC verdict allowing the reserved seats to be given to the ruling coalition comprising Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and others, ensured them a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly.

With this move, the number of PML-N MPs in the lower house of parliament increased to 123, PPP to 73, while the number of SIC MPs supported by PTI stood at 82.

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Justices Mansoor, Minallah and Mazhar, heard the SIC application on June 6 and stayed the PHC judgment as well as the ECP decision in the case.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision to suspend the ECP regulation, the coalition lost its two-thirds majority in the lower house.

However, the SIC’s application was met with opposition from both the federal government and the electoral body.

In a letter submitted to the court through Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Mansoor Usman Awan, the government urged the top court to reject the SIC’s plea, emphasising that the seats reserved for minorities and women can be given to a political party that contests the elections and wins at least one seat and also presents a list of candidates based on the total number of seats won as per the law.

Meanwhile, the ECP made a similar argument, saying the party had no right to contest the reserved seats as it had not submitted its list of candidates before the January 24 deadline.