The Lahore High Court (LHC) Monday issued notices to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for June 21 on a petition challenging delay in notification of new MPAs on five reserved seats of the Punjab Assembly after by-polls on 20 general seats. Judge Shujaat Ali Khan also issued notices to the attorney general for Pakistan and advocate general Punjab and sought their assistance. Justice Shujaat Ali Khan passed the orders while hearing a petition, filed by PTI MPA Zainab Umar. The petitioner’s counsel Muhammad Azhar Siddique argued that the ECP had vast powers but it could not assume the court’s role to interpret the law. However, the ECP passed the impugned decision while assuming the role of a court, he added. He submitted that the reserved seats must be filled immediately, but the ECP declined to use its powers under Article 224 and 106 of the Constitution, which showed its mala fide. He pleaded with the court to set aside the impugned decision and order the ECP to immediately issue the notifications of new MPAs on the reserved seats as the lists had already been given to it. The court, after hearing initial arguments, issued notices to the ECP and other respondents for June 21 and sought their response. On June 2, the ECP delayed issuance of the notification of new MPAs against five reserved seats until the by-polls on 20 general seats, scheduled for July 17. Last week, the ECP had ruled that the allocation of reserved seats – three women and two minorities – would be notified after the conclusion of by-election for 20 vacant Punjab Assembly seats. By-elections will be held for the seats that became vacant when the ECP de-notified 25 PTI dissident MPAs (20 general candidates, 3 women, and 2 minority members) who had voted for Hamza Shehbaz, against their party’s line in last month’s election for Punjab chief minister. The by-elections will take place on PP-7, PP-83, PP-90, PP-97, PP-125, PP-127, PP-140, PP-158, PP-167, PP-168, PP-170, PP-202, PP-217, PP-224, PP-228, PP-237, PP-272, PP-273, PP-282, and PP-288.