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NA Deputy Speaker’s ruling declared illegal, SC restores National Assembly, sets April 9 deadline for voting on no-trust move against PM

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan today declared illegal the dismissal of no-trust move of the opposition against Prime Minister Imran Khan by the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly.

The Supreme Court also restored the National Assembly and said that its dissolution was unlawful and unconstitutional. The apex court set April 9 deadline to convene the session of the parliament. The court also declared null and void all the orders given by the interim government headed by PM Imran Khan.

The Supreme Court further said that no-confidence move will be held and in case of its success, new Prime Minister will be elected by the National Assembly.

Announcing its decision on suo moto case this evening, the Chief Justice of Supreme Court said the ruling of the deputy speaker is unconstitutional and it is being declared null and void.

With the restoration of National Assembly, all the federal ministers will join the federal government with immediate effect.

Before giving this order, the five-member bench of the apex court heard the arguments of the concerned stakeholders. A five-member bench headed by CJP Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel, Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail finished hearing of the case earlier in the day.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial observed that the ruling of deputy speaker of National Assembly was erroneous.

NA’s Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri dismissed no-confidence move against Prime Minister Imran Khan on April 3.

During today’s hearing, the Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandia said that one thing is clear, “the ruling of Deputy Speaker was wrong” and now we will examine the next course of action keeping in mind the national interest.

Chief Justice said that a strong government is must to improve the governance system in the country. He said that the stock market and value of rupee against dollar are declining these days.

Chief Justice also said that the court will announce decision to uphold the interest of the general public in the country.

Attorney General Khalid Javed Khan said during the hear that he would not defend the ruling of Deputy Speaker.

A large number of lawyers, media personnel and politicians, including PML-N’s Shehbaz Sharif and PPP’s Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, have arrived at the court ahead of the verdict. Also, Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja too reached the court along with his legal team.

Advocate Farooq H Naek, who represented the PPP in the case, was questioned by the media on what verdict he was expecting.

He said he expected the deputy speaker’s ruling to be set aside. “The same way, [on the basis of] national importance, it seems that they (the judges) will suggest that election process has begun [so they should be allowed to continue],” Naek added.

Earlier, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel said National Assembly’s Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri announced the April 3 ruling which dismissed the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan, but the ruling carried signature of Speaker Asad Qaiser.

On Thursday (April 7), Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial observed that Article 95 has been violated in ruling of Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly which dismissed the no-trust move against Prime Minister Imran Khan, followed by dissolution of Parliament.

The CJP observed this in today’s hearing of the case. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has resumed the hearing on suo motu notice over political situation of the country arising after Deputy Speaker of National Assembly rejected no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan.

A five-member larger bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Umer Atta Bandial is conducting hearing of the case in federal capital.

Ali Zafar, in his arguments, said that the Constitution must be protected in accordance with the rules it underlines. He said that in order to protect the Constitution, each and every article had to be kept in mind.

Justice Bandial then asked what would happen when an injustice was carried out against the entire assembly, not just one member.

“Can Parliament interfere if there is a conflict between judges,” Zafar offered as a counter argument. “The answer is no. The judiciary has to settle the matter. It can’t interfere just like Parliament can’t [interfere in judges matters].”

The CJP also asked whether the formation of the federal government was an “internal matter” of Parliament.

Ali Zafar said that the no-confidence motion and the prime minister’s election fell within the ambit of Parliament. He said that the National Assembly is formed for the purpose of appointing a speaker and a prime minister.

Justice Miankhel said that the matter at present concerned the no-confidence motion. “A ruling came after the motion. Address this issue,” he told Zafar.

At one point, the CJP asked Zafar why he wasn’t explaining whether or not there was a constitutional crisis in the country. “If everything is happening according to the Constitution, where is the crisis?” he asked.

The apex court also sought minutes of the meeting of the NSC over threat letter and noted that it was not mentioned in the minutes that who gave briefings, many were missing from this crucial meeting, including foreign minister and there were no signatures of the participants of the meeting.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought the record of National Assembly proceedings conducted on the no-confidence motion filed against interim Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The apex court issued the directives as it resumed its hearing on the legality of the ruling by NA Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri on the no-confidence resolution.

A five-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, and including Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, presided over today’s proceedings.

Yesterday, the CJP had remarked that the court would issue a “reasonable order on the issue”, but the hearing was adjourned after Farooq H. Naek, the counsel of PPP and other opposition parties, presented his arguments.

At the outset of the hearing, PPP Senator Raza Rabbani noted how, according to media reports, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had said it was not possible to hold general elections within three months. However, the ECP has denied issuing any statement concerning elections.

He also said that the court had to examine the extent of the “immunity” of parliamentary proceedings. “Whatever has happened can only be termed as civilian martial law,” he said.

He maintained that Suri’s ruling was “illegal”, adding that it could not be contradictory to the Constitution. “The no-confidence motion can’t be dismissed without voting on it,” he said, citing Article 95 of the Constitution.

Rabbani also said that a deliberate attempt was made to construct a narrative against the no-trust move while a foreign conspiracy was also touted. He said that the NA session held on March 21 was adjourned after offering prayers for a deceased lawmaker, adding that this had not happened in the past.

The senator said that Fawad Chaudhry, speaking on a point of order during Sunday’s session, had talked about the letter and the foreign conspiracy even though it was not on the day’s agenda.

He also maintained that it was wrong of Suri to term opposition lawmakers as traitors without providing any evidence. A no-confidence motion was also submitted against Asad Qaiser which limits the power of the speaker, he said, adding that assemblies could not be dissolved during the no-confidence process.

He urged the court to dismiss the deputy speaker’s ruling and to restore the National Assembly, adding that the minutes of the National Security Committee and the ‘threat letter’ should also be presented.

After Rabbani, PML-N’s counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan presented his arguments. He began by stating that the no-confidence motion was submitted to the NA with the signatures of 152 lawmakers while 161 had voted in favour of tabling it. “After that, proceedings were adjourned till March 31.”

As per the rules, the counsel pointed out, a debate on the no-trust move was supposed to be conducted on March 31. “But a debate was not held,” he said, adding that voting was also not conducted on April 3.

He noted that according to the no-confidence motion, the prime minister had lost the confidence of the majority of the National Assembly. “Shehbaz Sharif had submitted the motion as per the rules of business,” he said, adding that the NA session was adjourned till April 3 without conducting any proceedings, he said.

The PML-N’s counsel also said that the deputy speaker did not give the opposition a chance to speak during the session held on April 3 and gave the floor to the former information minister.

At that, Justice Akhtar said that the process of the no-confidence motion was underlined in the rules of procedure, not the Constitution. However, Khan argued that rules were formed on the basis of the Constitution.

Continuing his argument, the PML-N lawyer said that the no-confidence motion can’t be dismissed by the speaker once it is tabled in the NA. He argued that there were rules regarding the procedure of the no-trust motion, the first of which was support from 20 per cent of the lawmakers.

CJP wonders why opposition skipped parliamentary committee meeting

During Monday’s hearing, Justice Bandial had observed that it seemed that the question of illegality in the filing of the no-trust motion could have been addressed earlier, but once the leave of the house was granted, then the stage of raising objections had passed.

Justice Akhtar, meanwhile, had questioned the deputy speaker’s constitutional authority to pass such a ruling. “I don’t think the deputy speaker had the authority to pass such a ruling,” he had said, adding that only the speaker could do so.

The CJP had also wondered why opposition members failed to attend the meeting of the parliamentary committee on national security, during which contents of the ‘threat letter’ were shared with parliamentarians.

“This needs to be answered by all political parties,” he had said, terming the parliamentary meeting important.

Earlier, Naek had requested the CJP that, in view of the grave emergency and public importance, the court should consider constituting a full court consisting of all judges, as had been done in the past.

At this, the CJP had said that if the counsel had no confidence in any member of the bench, the court would rise, adding that the full court was a luxury and during the last two years “we have suffered since 10,000 cases accumulated because of 63 hearings in the Justice Qazi Faez Isa case by a 10-judge bench”.

Suo motu notice

On Sunday, CJP Bandial had taken suo motu notice of the situation after the deputy speaker’s dismissal of the no-confidence motion against the premier, clubbing multiple petitions filed by various parties with it.

After a brief hearing, a written order was issued which said the court would like to “examine whether such an action (dismissal of the no-trust motion on the basis of Article 5) is protected by the ouster (removal from the court’s jurisdiction) contained in Article 69 of the Constitution.”

Article 69 of the Constitution essentially restricts the court’s jurisdiction to exercise authority on a member or officer of parliament with respect to the functions of regulating parliamentary proceedings or conducting business.

Javed Mahmood
Written By

I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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