The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) questioned the presidential ordinance that fixed a deadline of 60 days for elected members to commence and take the oath on Thursday. 

The PML-N filed the petition through its parliamentary party leader in the Senate Nazeer Tarar. The petition was filed in the Islamabad High Court against the third amendment of the Elections Ordinance, 2021.

The petition said that the opposition party was disgruntled by the person-specific legislation promulgated by the Ministry of Law and Justice to target the PML-N.

The petition stated that President Arif Alvi HAD on Sept 1 signed the ordinance to amend Section 72 of the Elections Act by adding a proviso 72A, which states, “Seat becoming vacant on not making oath within 60 days, the seat of a returned candidate shall become vacant if he willfully does not make an oath within 60 days from the date of the first sitting of the National Assembly, Senate, Provincial Assembly or Local Government or within 40 days of the promulgation of this Ordinance as the case may be.”

The petition further stated, “While the next general elections are to be held until the year 2023, and the next Senate elections are not to be held until 2024, the impugned ordinance was passed less than a month after the National Assembly was prorogued on August 12, 2021. As such, it represents one piece of legislation in a broader pattern of using ordinances to circumvent the constitutionally mandated, democratic legislative process in parliament.”

It also pointed out that prior to the promulgation of the ordinance, the National Assembly had already passed a bill titled Elections Amendment Act, 2020, adding that the bill is currently before the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs. Clause 25 of the Bill seeks to insert Section 72A to the Elections Act, which is almost identical, in language, to the impugned ordinance. The ordinance has been promulgated while the bill is under consideration by the Senate.

The petition also referred to the Supreme Court’s decision which states, “While courts are ordinarily wary of interfering in legislative actions, the Supreme Court has held that where a pre-requisite for the exercise of power has been provided in the relevant constitutional provision, the court may inquire into whether or not it has been fulfilled.”

The petition has requested the court to nullify the ordinance in question.


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