The Supreme Court on Wednesday 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 without a decision.
“The apex court wants to wrap up the case today,” Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial said when the hearing started.
The CJP had taken suo motu notice of the constitutional crisis that erupted after Deputy Speaker Suri disallowed voting on the no-trust motion deeming it “unconstitutional” — a move that the opposition said was a blatant violation of the Constitution.
A five-member larger bench, headed by Justice Bandial and comprising Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Aijazul Ahsan, Justice Mazhar Alam, and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel, is 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,” he added.
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 made 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 matter in the end.”
CJP Bandial said that the court will ask the Punjab advocate-general under which law the Assembly session was adjourned.
BABAR AWAN: PTI counsel Babar Awan resumed his arguments, saying that he wanted 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, Jamaat-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 in regard with 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 demanded 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 wanted that the court issues a brief order in their favour.
He said that the complainant parties want that reference to the National Security Committee in the ruling is ignored in this case.
A judgment passed by a British court was presented. I will tell that if it is relevant here or not.
“The Constitution of Pakistan has been formulated on the basis of Islamic point of view. Pakistan is different from other countries.”
He maintained that the speaker and the deputy speaker cannot stay silent over the “foreign conspiracy.”
“[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 come to the facts as 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.
IN-CAMERA HEARING: 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.
JUDICIAL COMMISSION: 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 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 is stated in the oath, which is considered as national interest.
Meanwhile, CJP asked if Awan believed that the resolution of no-confidence could 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 hasn’t granted leave.
“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 could 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 rectification in politics is.
“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 the 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.