Wednesday Apr 06, 2022
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court adjourned the hearing on the "unconstitutional" ruling by National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri to impede the vote of no-confidence against Prime Minister Imran Khan for the fourth consecutive day.
The SC wants to wrap up the case today, Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial said, as the apex court resumed hearing the case on Wednesday.
The CJP had taken suo motu notice of the constitutional crisis that erupted after Suri disallowed voting on the motion, deeming it "unconstitutional" — a move that the Opposition said was a blatant violation of the Constitution.
The apex court's five-member larger bench — headed by Justice Bandial and comprising Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Aijazul Ahsan, Justice Mazhar Alam, and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel — was hearing the arguments by the counsels of the remaining respondents of the case.
At the outset of the hearing, PML-N‘s counsel Nazeer Tarar maintained that the Punjab advocate-general had assured to hold the provincial assembly session today.
“Punjab Assembly deputy speaker’s directives are not being implemented.”
Responding to this, CJP Bandial said that a very important case is being heard in this court.
“We first want to wrap up the case on what happened in the NA on April 3,” the CJP remarked.
However, Tarar argued, "Punjab Assembly's matter is the extension of Islamabad's case."
At this, the chief justice said that "negative statements" are being issued against the court and it is being said that the court is delaying the matter.
“We have to decide after listening to everyone's stance.[…] will look into Punjab assembly's matter in the end.”
CJP Bandial said that the court will ask the Punjab advocate-general under which law the Assembly session was adjourned.
Meanwhile, PTI’s counsel Babar Awan resumed his arguments, saying that he wants to put some points before the court.
"I believe that no point will be disregarded in this case."
Awan and counsels representing other respondents — PPP, PML-N, Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), Sindh High Court Bar, Attorney General of Pakistan and Advocate General of Punjab — had presented their arguments before the court in Tuesday's hearing as well.
Today, Awan referred to the verdict by Justice Faez Isa on the minorities.
He objected that all the political parties are a party in this case except for MQM-P, PTM, Balochistan Awami Party and Jamat-e-Islami and Rah-e-Haq party.
He went on to say that the case is whether the NA speaker’s act was illegal.
“The political parties maintain that they have been declared traitors under Article 5 of the Constitution. […]. The court was asked to interpret Article 2.”
At this, CJP Bandial said that no one has been termed a traitor with regards to Article 5 but the action taken under Article 5 has been stated as treason. He said that the Constitution is such a document in which the clauses and sections are read together.
“There is a separate interpretation for Article 95,” the judge added.
Awan said that no one said a single word about Article 63A.
"They [Opposition] claim that they are trying to save parliamentarian democracy. PML-N president [Shahbaz Sharif] demanded the formation of a commission in a press conference that he addressed without reading the National Security Committee's ruling."
Awan argued that the joint Opposition wants that the court issues a brief order in their favour.
He said that the complainant parties want the reference to the National Security Committee in the ruling to be ignored in this case.
A judgment passed by a British court was presented.
“The Constitution of Pakistan has been formulated on the basis of an Islamic point of view. Pakistan is different from other countries.”
He maintained that the speaker and the deputy speaker cannot stay silent over the alleged “foreign conspiracy" to topple the PTI-led government.
"[NA] speaker and the deputy speaker are bound to fulfil their constitutional responsibility.”
At this, the CJP said that an accusation has been levelled in this case. He asked the lawyer to consider the fact that the deputy speaker had taken a step.
“No-confidence motion is a constitutional process. Does the speaker have the authority to sabotage a constitutional process?” asked the CJP.
Meanwhile, the PTI’s lawyer pleaded with the court for an in-camera hearing on the Lettergate.
At this, the attorney general said that a lawyer of a political party should not give arguments on foreign policy. Agreeing with the attorney general, the CJP said that the court does not want to get involved in foreign policy matters.
Babar Awan requested the top court to form a judicial commission to identify those who were involved in the "attack on Pakistan’s sovereignty."
The PTI’s lawyer said that controversial facts should be investigated, adding the Memogate scandal proceedings were still pending.
Responding to the lawyer’s demand, Justice Mandokhel remarked:
“Your client, the prime minister, wants to form a commission. That means he doesn’t know who is involved [in the foreign conspiracy]."
The judge asked if Awan's client took such an extreme step without knowing about the details.
At this, Awan said that PM Imran Khan doesn’t want to speak about what he knows "for the sake of Pakistan’s interest."
“Investigation is necessary if the facts are controversial. [The] prime minister is not the investigator, therefore, this task should be done by relevant people.”
"You are basing your arguments on assumptions," Justice Ahsan remarked.
CJP Bandial said that the court had to be briefed on parliamentary democracy.
"We have to conclude this case and complete the hearing soon."
The CJP directed Awan to share the related facts. He also asked where the word “national interest” is used in the NA speaker’s oath.
Responding to the query, Awan said that national security, defence and loyalty are stated in the oath, which is considered part of national interest.
Meanwhile, the CJP asked if Awan believes that the resolution of no-confidence can be dismissed without holding an election.
“This is the first point that you raised in your arguments. You are saying that the NA rules state that the no-trust motion can be rejected without voting,” he remarked.
Justice Ahsan remarked that the speaker can reject the motion only if he has not granted the leave to vote.
“Once the no-confidence motion is presented in court, it can be dismissed only through voting.”
Moreover, when asked if Rule 28 includes the deputy speaker, Awan refrained from making any comment.
Meanwhile, Justice Akhtar inquired if a speaker can preside over a session if a no-confidence motion is submitted against him.
The institution where horse-trading is being done makes laws and rules for the country, Awan alleged.
CJP Bandial asked what is rectification in politics.
“Being de-seated is a consequence under Article 63A. You say there should be a strict punishment,” he said.
“If your members are defecting from the party, then the SC cannot issue a verdict on it. Instead, it has to decide on the Election Commission of Pakistan’s declaration,” the judge noted.
Justice Mandokhel remarked that a party should also ponder upon why people are leaving it.
“We have taken an oath to protect the Constitution. The court will make a decision for the people and everyone will be bound to follow it,” he added.
The top judge during Tuesday's hearing had remarked that constitutional orders are above the rules of the National Assembly.
He said that the majority (20%) of the members were present in the NA when the no-confidence motion against PM Imran Khan was tabled.
"The Constitutional right cannot be disregarded based on NA Rules."
CJP Bandial had directed NA speaker's counsel Naeem Bokhari to present the minutes of the crucial NA session held on March 31 to debate the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan, in today's hearing.
He also directed Bokhari to assist the court with the help of documents in the next hearing over the question of whether Suri had been given the authority to give the ruling or not.
"The formation of a caretaker government is subject to the court's proceedings [...] want to conclude the case today," CJP Bandial had remarked during the hearing.
"The court will announce the verdict on the basis of law and Constitution instead of loyalties."
He said that the SC will release the order when all the parties complete their arguments.
CJP Bandial had taken a suo motu notice of the constitutional crisis that erupted after the incident. The judge maintained in a written judgment issued during Sunday's hearing that his fellow judges had approached him and had expressed concern over the situation.
"Any orders and actions that Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Arif Alvi regarding the dissolution of the National Assembly shall be subject to the order of this court," CJP Bandial had said taking the notice on Sunday.
Earlier, the SC restrained state institutions from taking any extra-constitutional steps and directed them to act strictly in accordance with the Constitution, besides asking all political forces of the country to remain peaceful.
The joint Opposition has also prepared a petition to cancel the ruling of the deputy speakers under which the National Assembly session was adjourned for an indefinite period as Suri cancelled the voting on the no-confidence motion, terming it “unconstitutional”.
According to the petition prepared by the joint Opposition, the speaker should be directed to convene the session today as “the deputy speaker cannot adjourn the session as it is unconstitutional.”
Furthermore, the Opposition has filed a petition against President Arif Alvi, PM Imran Khan, Speaker NA Asad Qaiser and Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri for violating the Constitution.
Meanwhile, Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) has also filed a petition in the Supreme Court on the constitutional crisis.
The constitutional petition filed by SCBA states that a voting of no-confidence motion was a must, and the speaker cannot cancel the voting by a ruling.
It was further noted that the deputy speaker’s ruling contradicts Article 95(2). It further said that according to Article 58(1) the premier cannot even “advise dissolution of the assembly,” once the no-confidence motion is filed against him/her.
Sources privy to the matter said that a special bench of the top court will hear the case.