The Supreme Court of Pakistan building, emphasizing its architectural grandeur, related to the news headline "Supreme Court Convenes Full Bench for Reserved Seats Case."

“Political Tensions Rise as SC Forms Full Bench for Reserved Seats Case”

ISLAMABAD: On Friday, the Supreme Court (SC) formed a full court bench to address the case concerning seats reserved for women and minorities. This case, initiated by the Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC), will be heard on Monday.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa leads the bench, joined by Justices Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Munib Akhtar, Yahya Afridi, Aminuddin Khan, Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Ayesha Malik, Athar Minallah, Syed Hasan Azhar Rizvi, Shahid Waheed, Irfan Saadat Khan, and Naeem Akhtar Afghan. The hearing is scheduled for June 3 at 11:30 am.

The SIC, supported by PTI-backed independent candidates post the February 8 elections, faced challenges as their party lost its electoral symbol, the ‘bat’. In March, a 4-1 verdict from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) declared the SIC ineligible for reserved seats due to legal discrepancies and failure to submit the necessary party list for these seats. Consequently, the ECP redistributed the seats to other parties: PML-N and PPP gained 16 and five additional seats, respectively, while JUI-F received four. PTI condemned this decision as unconstitutional.

In response, the SIC appealed to the Peshawar High Court (PHC) in March, but their plea was dismissed. Seeking redress, the SIC petitioned the SC in April, led by party chief Sahibzada Hamid Raza, aiming to overturn the PHC’s decision.

On May 6, the SC temporarily suspended the PHC’s March 14 judgment and the ECP’s March 1 decision. The court mandated a review of the petitions by a three-judge committee to decide on forming a larger bench, given the constitutional implications as highlighted by Attorney General for Pakistan Mansoor Usman Awan.

Following this, the ECP halted the victory notifications of 77 national and provincial assembly members elected to these reserved seats. This suspension affected 44 members from PML-N, 15 from PPP, 13 from JUI-F, and one each from PML-Q, IPP, PTI-P, MQM-P, and ANP.

As a result, the ruling coalition’s two-thirds majority in the lower house was reduced, shrinking its numbers from 228 to 209 in the 336-member house, where 224 seats constitute a two-thirds majority. Specifically, PML-N’s representation dropped from 121 to 107, and PPP’s from 72 to 67. Among the suspended were 22 members elected on reserved seats, comprising 14 from PML-N, five from PPP, and three from JUI-F.

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