QUETTA – Syed Matiullah Agha and Dr Fouzia Marri were Monday elected unopposed as speaker and deputy speaker of Balochistan Assembly, and soon after their election the high court rejected a petition of former speaker challenging his removal from the office.Dr Fouzia of Balochistan National Party (Awami) is the first ever women of the province to assume the august office of the deputy speaker.Matiullah Agha, who belongs to Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazal), was earlier deputy speaker and was functioning as acting speaker, after former Speaker Muhammad Aslam Bhootani refused to chair the assembly session. Bhootani contended that the Supreme Court verdict in Balochistan unrest case has brought the status of provincial government into question, and that he would not chair the assembly unless there is clarity on this subject.The slot of speakership fell vacant when Chief Minister Aslam Raisani’s government pushed a no-trust motion against speaker Bhootani in session chaired by Matiullah Agha and got it passed with majority on Dec 26.Monday’s session of Balochistan Assembly started with acting Speaker Matiullah Agha in the chair with the sole agenda of electing speaker and deputy speaker. Matiullah himself being a candidate for the speakership left the chair for Dr Fouzia Marri, a member of Panel of Chairmen of the House.As no other candidate had submitted nomination papers for the slot of speaker, Matiullah was elected unopposed and was administrated oath by Dr Fouzia. Following his election as speaker the slot of deputy speaker fell vacant and break was given for the election of deputy speaker.After the session resumed, Dr Fouiza Marri was elected deputy speaker unopposed and she took oath from Speaker Matiullah Agha. Besides Dr Fouzia, PML-Q’s Dr Basant Lal Gulshan had also submitted his nomination papers for the slot but he withdrew his papers before the election. Cameras were not allowed to cover this election.Chief Minister Nawab Muhammad Aslam Raisani in his speech congratulated the new speaker and deputy speaker and thanked the legislators for their cooperation and declared it a victory of democracy. “The election of speaker and deputy speaker with consensus is a precedent for others,” he remarked, adding that neither “shoes nor papers” were thrown in the assembly; rather, the lawmakers showered flowers on each other.Raisani said during the ongoing tenure of the assembly, though sometimes ‘some friends’ were furious and jeered at each other but they always demonstrated flexibility which was a welcome trend for democracy. “We think the (other) democratic institutions (of the country) should learn from our assembly because there are different parties of various schools of thought but the house never witnessed hullabaloo,” he added.Senior Minister and Parliamentary Leader of JUI-F Abdul Wasey felicitated the new speaker and deputy speaker. He said that the house has reposed trust in the leadership of CM Raisani for the fourth time. Other legislators, including ministers Syed Ahsan Shah, Ali Madad Jatak, Mir Shahnawaz Marri, Ghulam Jan Baloch, Ghazala Gola and others, also congratulated the new speaker and deputy speaker. Later the speaker adjourned the session for an indefinite period.As the Balochistan Assembly elected its new speaker and deputy speaker, a two-member bench of the Balochistan High Court (BHC) comprising Justice Jamal Mandokhel and Justice Noor Muhammad was hearing a petition filed by former speaker Bhootani challenging his removal from the office.Bhootani’s counsel Baz Muhammad Kakar pleaded that legal and constitutional requirements were not fulfilled while ousting his client. Defence lawyer Sardar Latif Khosa said that no rules and regulations were violated, adding that if there was any violation then the court could stop election of speaker.At this Justice Mandokhail inquired Advocate General Amanullah Khanrani why not the election of speaker be stopped. Advocate General replied that the stopping of election of speaker would be interference in democratic process.Justice Mandokhail addressing the advocate general said that it was demand of honour of the court that the government should have waited for the judgment of case before conducting election of speaker. He however said that if there was no violation of assembly’s rules and regulations then there was no question of violation of constitution.After a break, the bench rejected the application of Aslam Bhootani and said that detailed judgment would be passed later. Later, talking to the media, Bhootani’s counsel hinted that his client might challenge the high court judgment in the Supreme Court.