Kalsoom yet to take oath as MNA

ISLAMABAD –  Over a month has passed since the official notification of Kalsoom Nawaz’s victory in NA-120 by-polls was issued as she has been constrained to take the oath as Member National Assembly due to her ill health and treatment abroad.

Legal and constitutional experts were divided over the issue of the time period for taking the oath after the victory notification was issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Some experts were of the view that constitution, rules of business for National Assembly as well as the statutes of ECP are silent over the time period for taking the oath after the issuance of the formal notification of candidate’s victory.

But some legal and constitutional experts referred to Article 271-4 of the Constitution, which gives clear direction to the candidate to take the oath within 21 days of the formal notification by the ECP.

The by-polls on the NA-120 seat, which fell vacant due to the disqualification of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif by the apex court, was held on September 17 while the ECP issued the notification on September 27 on completion of formalities on the part of Kalsoom Nawaz.

ECP former secretary Kanwar Dilshad said that it was not correct that the Constitution was silent on the issue as Article 271-4 clearly mentions that after the notification of a candidate’s victory by the ECP, he or she is required to take the oath of office within 21 days and failing which he or she would cease to hold the seat.

However, the National Assembly speaker could extend the timeline for administering the oath on receiving some valid reasons for the delay. “As the time period for taking the oath for Kalsoom Nawaz has already lapsed, she would be required to furnish an application to National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq Speaker for granting extension in the time period for taking the oath,” Dilshad said.

He further said that as the lady was seriously ill and undergoing treatment in the United Kingdom, she has a genuine reason for not taking the oath as Member National Assembly and obviously she must be granted extension of the time period for taking the oath.

To a question, the former ECP secretary and constitutional experts said that there was no bar on granting of an extension of time period for taking the oath and it was the discretion of the National Assembly speaker to extend the time period.

Article 271-4 read; “A person referred to in paragraph(a) of clause (1) shall not sit or vote in the National Assembly until he has made the oath prescribed by Article 65 and, if, without the leave of the Speaker of National Assembly granted on reasonable cause shown, he fails to make the oath within twenty-one days on the day of the first meeting of the Assembly, his seat shall become vacant at the expiration of that period.”

However, some legal experts said that Article 271-4 did not qualify in the case in hand as it applies to the candidates who return victories in general elections. They said that the Constitution, statues of the ECP and rules of business and conduct of National Assembly all were silent on the issue and there was no definite time period for the candidate to take the oath of his office after the formal notification of his victory by the ECP.

Sources in the Parliament said though the reason of delay in taking the oath by Kalsoom Nawaz was quite genuine, the matter would likely to echo in the upcoming session of the National Assembly.

A senior ruling party parliamentarian said that the party would fulfill all the legal and constitutional formalities to cope with this extraordinary situation and definitely would file an application on behalf of Kalsoom Nawaz to get an extension in the time period, if required, for taking the oath.

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