In a historic verdict the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Thursday restored the National Assembly declaring Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri’s ruling contrary to the Constitution and the president’s order to dissolve the assembly on the advice of prime minister and restored the assembly to the April 3 state.
“…the prime minister did not have the right to advise the president to dissolve the assembly […] all the decisions made till date have been nullified,” the apex court’s ruling said.
The court has ordered National Assembly Speaker Asad Qasier to summon the session on Saturday (April 9) at 10 am to allow the vote on the no-confidence motion against the premier.
“…if the no-confidence motion against the prime minister succeeds, then the assembly will appoint the new prime minister,” the order said.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial had earlier said that the court would move forward only after seeing national interest and practical possibilities.
The chief justice noted that the deputy speaker’s ruling is, prima facie, a violation of Article 95, as the apex court resumed deliberation on the “unconstitutional” act by Suri for the fifth consecutive day on Thursday.
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 —heard the case.
AGP: During the hearing, AGP Khalid Jawed Khan excused himself from defending NA Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri’s April 3 ruling.
He argued that his focus is on new elections in the country. Those who have been dubbing the assembly as selected for the past four years now wanted to become the prime minister of the same assembly, he added.
Jamal Khan Mandokhail noted that it seemed that the speaker issued the ruling considering himself above all others.
SHEHBAZ SHARIF: When Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif was called to the rostrum, he said that if the court acknowledges that the ruling of the deputy speaker was “unconstitutional”, then it should restore parliament.
He said that if the deputy speaker’s move was unconstitutional then decisions taken by Prime Minister Imran Khan with the help of President Arif Alvi are also “insignificant”.
“The no-confidence motion against PM Imran Khan will automatically be restored once the apex court rules out the ruling of the deputy speaker,” he said.
Calling the ruling of the deputy speaker “unconstitutional and illegal”, the PML-N leader said that voting was to be held on April 3 and “constituencies cannot be dissolved during the proceedings.”
He highlighted that several government allies and MNAs joined the Opposition, assuring the five-member bench that the joint Opposition will protect the Constitution of Pakistan.
CJP Bandial said that the proceedings of the court are being held under Article 184 (3) as this is a public interest case.
During the cross-questioning session, Justice Mandokhel asked Shehbaz that the opposition has been demanding fresh elections and now that they have the opportunity, why are they against it?
Replying to his question, Shehbaz said that the election has been “stolen” and Constitution has been “violated”; to which Justice Mandokhel said that the Constitution would be restored.
CJP OBJECTIONS: Naeem Bokhari, the counsel representing National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser and Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri, presented the minutes of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security (PCNS) meeting in the court.
CJP Bandial asked who the participants were and who briefed them.
Bokhari replied that the national security adviser briefed the meeting.
CJP Bandial objected to his assertion and said that 11 people attended the meeting as per the record, but the names of officials who briefed the meeting are not in the minutes.
He noted that NSA Moeed Yusuf’s name was also missing from the minutes.
Justice Mandokhel asked if the foreign minister attended the meeting or not.
“It seems like the FM wasn’t present at the parliamentary committee’s meeting,” Bokhari said.
While responding to the court’s objections over the absence of the foreign minister at the PCNS meeting, Bokhari said that the AGP would give a briefing over what happened in the meeting.
CJP Bandial objected that 57 members attended the PCNS meeting on March 31, and those who sided with the opposition might have informed them about the matters discussed there.
He asked if the former minister for law should have sought the opposition’s response instead of the deputy speaker’s ruling on the points order.
At this, Bokhari said that the points of order is not debatable.
However, the chief justice noted that the other party can be given a chance to speak as per the NA rules but it wasn’t allowed despite the option.