The Election Commission Tuesday reserved its verdict on the references filed for disqualification of PTI’s 25 dissident Members of the Punjab Assembly. It will announce the verdict at 12pm today (Wednesday). Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi had sent the references to the Election Commission. The counsel for the dissident members argued that the MPAs were unaware of the directions given by the parliamentary party about voting for Pervaiz Elahi for the slot of Punjab chief minister. However, PTI’s counsel Syed Ali Zafar argued that the MPAs argument reminded him of what “we call the sleepwalking defence”. The counsel added, “Lawyers of yesteryears were men of great sagacity and wisdom. In my initial days of practice, I used to make it a point to visit them to learn. In one such meeting, with one of the most famous criminal lawyers of the time, I asked him what was the worst and most absurd defence he had ever taken in his cases,” the counsel added. Narrating the lawyer’s response at the hearing, Zafar said the lawyer once had a case in which a man announced before a full gathering of villagers that he was going to murder someone, and did, in fact, shot dead someone the next day, in broad daylight, in the middle of a market. And also injured a bystander. “There were eyewitnesses – the public, shopkeepers at the market and even the injured man,” Zafar narrated, adding that the lawyer “in desperation took the defence that his client had committed the murder while sleepwalking”. “The defence failed and the murderer was rightly hanged,” the PTI counsel argued. Barrister Zafar stated that pleas such as this became known as the absurd defence of sleepwalking. Zafar then went on to contend that this was exactly what the defectors were doing. “By taking the defence and claiming they were not aware of parliamentary party directions regarding who to vote for in the election of the chief minister, when the entire world and the nation knew about it, and the same was being discussed in talk shows and reported in the newspapers, is like saying that the MPAs were, though awake, yet sleeping all this time,” he added. The counsel claimed that the meeting of the parliamentary party was held on April 1, its decision was reported in the press the next day, that notices to all MPAs of the Punjab Assembly were issued on April 2 by the chief whip, and another notice was sent on April 4 by PTI General Secretary Asad Umar, that another meeting was held in April in which the same decision was taken, and that a notice was sent on April 7 for the third time. He went on to add that the minutes of both the meetings were produced, the same was reported in the media and discussed in programmes, and that the voting took place in front of the entire nation and was covered live by electronic media. He maintained that no one denied the voting, a fifth show-cause notice was issued on April 16 and the MPAs chose not to appear before the party head. Hence they were rightly declared to have defected.