The PTI on Friday filed an appeal in the Lahore High Court (LHC), challenging the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) verdict on notifying new MPAs on five reserved seats of the Punjab Assembly after they fell vacant following the de-seating of 25 dissident PTI lawmakers. The petition was submitted by resident Zainab Umair. Last month, 25 PTI dissident lawmakers, which included five elected on seats reserved for women and minorities, were de-seated for voting for PML-N’s Hamza Shehbaz in the Punjab chief minister’s election. They were officially de-notified by the ECP on May 23. Subsequently, the PTI had filed a petition in the LHC requesting it to direct the ECP to notify the five new MPAs and “summon [them] personally” after which the high court had given the ECP a deadline for June 2 to decide on the matter. In its verdict on Thursday, the electoral watchdog had stayed the notification until the by-polls on the 20 general seats scheduled for July 17, saying that the general seats of the PA had been reduced. Umair, in her appeal filed today, opposed the commission’s ruling contending that it was an attempt at hindrance by the “illegal government” and was a contravention of Article 224 of the Constitution. Section 9 of the law stated that “when a seat reserved for women or non-Muslims in the National Assembly or a Provincial Assembly falls vacant, on account of death, resignation or disqualification of a member, it shall be filled by the next person in order of precedence from the party list of the candidates to be submitted to the Election Commission by the political party whose member has vacated such seat.” The petitioner argued that the ECP had “utterly failed” to perform the constitutional obligations as envisaged under the law and passed a “biased and arbitrary” verdict. “The aforementioned order is an erroneous assumption of jurisdiction as ECP does not possess the power or authority to interpret the Constitution as vested with the honourable courts of Pakistan,” she stated. The petition further revealed that during the hearing of the application, the electoral body had summoned the Attorney General of Pakistan as well as the Advocate General of Punjab. “ECP is not a court of law, therefore, does not have the jurisdiction to summon the Attorney General or the Advocate General of Punjab under any circumstances as the same were advocates for the PML-N previously,” it argued. Subsequently, Umair requested the court set aside ECP’s order and direct it to “immediately issue the notifications for the 5 elected/declared MPAs for the reserved seats” in the interest of justice, equity and fair play.