Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial on Monday said that even if the speaker of the National Assembly cites Article 5 of the Constitution, the no-confidence motion cannot be rejected.
A five-member larger bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Bandial and comprising Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Aijazul Ahsan, Justice Mazhar Alam, and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel resumed hearing on the case filed by the joint opposition a day earlier when the deputy speaker of the National Assembly barred parliamentarians from voting on the no-trust motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan. As a result, the CJP had taken a suo motu notice of the situation.
At the outset of the hearing, PPP’s counsel Farooq H Naek requested the court to form a full-court bench to hear the case.
“The court should form a full-court bench for [this] important constitutional matter,” Naek said.
Responding to Naek’s request, CJP Bandial remarked that the bench would wrap up if Naek says he doesn’t have confidence in anyone.
The chief justice inquired if Naek would like to share which of the constitutional questions need the formation of a full-court bench.
“Looking into the constitutional questions is the court’s job. You tell […] what is the basis of your case.
“The full-court bench held 66 hearings on a case for two years. 12 thousand cases piled up due to full-court bench [hearings],” the top judge remarked.
The top judge went on to say that one full-court bench caused a backlog of one million cases.
The court will let you know if a full-court bench is needed over the constitutional questions in the case, the CJP added.
Starting his arguments, Naek referred to Article 54(3) and said that the National Assembly session is supposed to be convened within 14 days after a motion is submitted.
“The no-trust motion was submitted on March 8, 2022, while the assembly session was called on March 25 instead of March 21. The NA deputy speaker adjourned session on March 25 after Fateha till March 28,” Naek said.
The speaker didn’t provide any reason for not convening the meeting till March 20 after the motion was submitted, he added.
At this, Justice Mandokhel objected that Naek’s case involves the act of speaker in Sunday’s NA session.
“Tell [me] if the speaker did right or wrong,” the judge asked Naek.
“Wouldn’t the resolution be dismissed if there are 100 members and of them, 50 are in its favour and 25 are against it?” Justice Akhtar questioned.
“Supreme Court cannot intervene in the proceedings within the assembly,” Justice Akhtar remarked.
The court inquired if the deputy speaker’s ruling is a procedural defect or constitutional manipulation?
To this, Naek responded that it is a constitutional manipulation.
Naek argued that the speaker does not have any authority to deem the no-confidence motion illegitimate.
CJP Bandial inquired to which extent does the speaker have constitutional security under Article 69 of the Constitution?
Naek said that the speaker has constitutional security under Article 69 if he commits a procedural defect.
“Our case is about constitutional manipulation instead of procedural defect,” he added.
At this, Justice Akhtar remarked that the case you have brought is about the assembly’s procedure.
NO-TRUST: Meanwhile, Justice Ahsan remarked that the “no-confidence motion is not valid until the leave is not granted.”
Responding to these remarks, Naek argued that the speaker had permitted presenting the resolution of no-trust.
CJP Bandial inquired what does it mean to grant leave.
The court inquired who allows presenting the resolution, the speaker or the House.
At this, Naek responded that the House allows presenting the resolution instead of the speaker.
“Does the speaker have the authority to disallow presenting the resolution and what happens if the speaker doesn’t allow it?” asked Justice Akhtar.
Meanwhile, CJP Bandial asked if April 3 wasn’t fixed for debate on the no-confidence motion.
“How could a date be fixed for direct voting without holding debate on the no-trust motion,” CJP asked, adding that debate must be done for three days before going towards voting as per the rules.
At this, Naek informed the court that the speaker didn’t allow debating on the motion despite PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s request.
PROCEDURAL DEFECT: “Not allowing debate is a procedural defect,” Justice Ahsan remarked at Naek’s response.
Discussing Sunday’s session, the court inquired under which rule did the speaker give the ruling?
Naek told the court that the speaker gives rulings under Rule 28.
At this, Justice Akhtar remarked that only the speaker can give and take back the ruling under the rule mentioned by Naek.
“The speaker can give a ruling in the House or in his office,” the judge said.
He further stated that the speaker gives the deputy speaker the authority in written but the latter can only preside over a meeting of the Assembly.
During the hearing, CJP Bandial directed Naek to argue how the deputy speaker’s ruling is illegitimate.
Naek requested the court to wrap up the case and reserve the verdict today.
However, the CJP remarked that the court has to hear other respondents as well.
After this the court adjourned the hearing till 12 pm tomorrow.