LHC seeks reply from PA speaker regarding 'unconstitutional' contest

A division bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC), headed by Justice Muzamil Akhtar Shabir, sought replies from newly elected Punjab Assembly Speaker Sibtain Khan and the secretary Punjab Assembly regarding the PML-N's petition against the speaker election.

The PML-N had alleged that the contest was “unconstitutional” as it subverted the election process by compromising voter secrecy, therefore breaching Article 226 – “All elections under the Constitution, other than those of the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister, shall be by secret ballot”.

As proceedings commenced, the PML-N’s counsel Mansoor Usman Awan reiterated before the court that the election for the speaker’s slot held in the provincial assembly was a sheer violation of Article 226.

He maintained that under the Constitution and Rules, the election of speaker is to be held through a secret ballot, but the PTI government took stepped outside the boundaries of the Constitution by compromising secrecy.

Read PML-N moves LHC against 'unconstitutional' election of PA Speaker

Awan also informed the court that the ballot papers and counterfoils had been numbered in such a manner that the choice exercised by each MPA could be identified by comparing the serial number on the ballot paper and the serial number and signatures of MPAs on the counterfoils of the ballot papers. As a result, the secrecy of the ballot could easily be breached, he added.

The PML-N's counsel requested that the court set aside the contest as it had 'no constitutional validity'.

The bench asked whether the speaker’s election had ever been challenged, to which Awan argued that the country was passing through a phase where a lot of scenarios were emerging.

However, the court then issued notices to the respondents and sought their replies. Meanwhile, the bench also sought legal assistance from the Attorney General of Punjab (AGP) office on the matter.

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