ISLAMABAD - National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq in particular and PML-N floor managers in general would be bracing for tough time ahead in next session of the lower house as opposition submits motion seeking explanation from custodian of the house to explain the reasons for not accepting resignations of PTI MNAs.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has submitted the motion in NA Secretariat calling for a debate as to why the speaker violated constitution by not accepting resignations tendered by PTI lawmakers despite their remaining absent from the house for 40 consecutive sessions of the lower house.

During the joint sitting of Parliament convened recently for debating Yemen crisis in which PTI lawmakers including Imran Khan ended boycott of National Assembly amid protest by members of treasury and opposition benches, Speaker Ayaz Sadiq had argued that no member of the house had pointed the absence of PTI MNAs when they remained absent for 40 days.

However, MQM MNA Abdul Rashid Godel told The Nation on Wednesday that JUI-F lawmaker Naeema Kishwar had prepared the motion regarding the absence of PTI MNAs alleging that Speaker Sadiq did not pay heed to the issue.

“The constitution is very clear about resignation of an MNA from National Assembly. I have two questions from the speaker: First, why resignation of Nabeel Gabol was accepted on a telephone call? Second, why the speaker did not accept resignations of the five PTI lawmakers who had met him personally for presenting list of their fellow party MNAs?” Mr Godel said.

He recalled that MQM MNA Khalid Maqbool’s resignation from the house was accepted when he was languishing in jail in 1993, rejecting the speaker’s argument that PTI lawmakers had not appeared before him physically.

Not only opposition benches but PML-N’s top allies in federal government including PkMAP chief Mehmood Khan Achkazai and JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman had grilled the speaker for sitting on acceptance of resignations of PTI lawmakers questioning him for not using his due constitutional powers in this regard.

Constitutional experts candidly say that the speaker maintained calm in the house at the cost of constitution by not using his power regarding the resignation issue of PTI legislators. As per article 64 of the constitution, the house has to declare the seat of a member, who fails to attend the session of National Assembly for consecutive 40 days, as vacant.

“I have been following the resignations of PTI MNAs and I am very clear on this that the speaker has no reasons to allow them (PTI MNAs) back to the house that they abused, boycotted and then tendered resignations,” constitutional expert and senior lawyer Supreme Court Ikram Chaudhary told this reporter on phone. He said the issue would haunt the speaker as the return of the lawmakers has also been challenged in the apex court.

In a reference to PPP senator and constitutional expert Aitzaz Ahsan’s argument that the government cannot hold by-election on 35 seats by accepting resignations of PTI MNAs, Ikram Chaudhry wondered as to how a lawyer can be expected to make such statement. “Constitution should be supreme. But keeping in view the past precedents of breach of constitution that went unheard, I am sure the latest sacrilege of principle (constitution) would also go unnoticed,” he added.

A senior official in Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) told this reporter Wednesday that the commission had sent letter to Speaker Ayaz Sadiq to inform about acceptance of resignations of PTI lawmakers so that preparation for by-election could be done within 60 days. “When no reply was received from Speaker’s Chamber, we sent another letter asking speaker to inform ECP about acceptance or rejection of the resignation drama. We again received no reply and then we kept mum,” he added.

Back in September last year when the resignation episode of PTI lawmakers would occupy headlines in press, constitutional expert SM Zafar had said that the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s ruling given in a case in 1976 fully empowered the speaker to verify resignations of members from other sources if the members cannot appear in person.