Deputy speaker’s ruling: Court will issue a ‘reasonable order’ today, says CJP Bandial

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Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial said on Monday that the apex court would issue a “reasonable order” today on the the legality of the current situation in the country following the dismissal of a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan by National Assembly (NA) Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri and the subsequent dissolution of the NA by President Arif Alvi on the prime minister’s advice.

His remarks came while a larger bench of the Supreme Court – comprising the CJP, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail — took up the matter.

During the hearing today, the court rejected a plea by Farooq H. Naek, who is representing the PPP and other opposition parties, to form a full court bench to hear the matter. Naek had said that the case concerned complex matters of the law and therefore all judges of the apex court should sit on the bench.

The CJP, however, asked Naek if he had objections to any judge on the five-member bench. “If there is a lack of confidence in any of the judges, the bench will rise,” Justice Bandial said. To this, Naek said he had full confidence in all judges on the bench.

Justice Bandial said forming a full court bench would impede proceedings of other cases.

When PTI’s counsel Babar Awan took the rostrum, the chief justice said that he wanted to hear the petitioners first. “If you want to give a statement, you can,” Justice Bandial told Awan, who informed the court that the party was ready for the next election.

“The court will only review the speaker’s ruling, not political statements,” the chief justice remarked, reiterating that the court would give a “reasonable decision”.

Naek told the court that the requisition notice for the NA session and no-confidence motion were submitted on March 8. “The speaker was bound to convene the session within 14 days but the meeting was called on March 27,” he said.

However, Justice Mandokhail pointed out that the case did not concern when the NA session was summoned while Justice Akhtar said that the speaker had provided reasons for the delay. “You can argue whether the reasons provided were correct or incorrect,” Justice Akhtar told Naek.

Suo motu notice
Yesterday, CJP Bandial had taken suo motu notice of the situation and formed a three-member bench headed by CJP Bandial, and including Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar, to take up the matter. Today, a larger bench of the apex court is hearing the case.

After a brief hearing on Sunday, 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.

“No officer or member of Majlis-i-Shoora (parliament) in whom powers are vested by or under the Constitution for regulating procedure or the conduct of business, or for maintaining order in Majlis-i-Shoora, shall be subject to the jurisdiction of any court in respect of the exercise by him of those powers,” clause two of the Article reads.

The court also ordered all state functionaries and authorities — as well as political parties — to refrain from taking any advantage of the current situation and stay strictly within the confines of the Constitution.

The court had also directed the interior and defence secretaries to brief it on the law and order situation.

Read: Army has nothing to do with the political process, says DG ISPR

President Alvi, the Supreme Court Bar Association and all political parties have been made respondents in the case.

The apex court rejected a request to suspend the deputy speaker’s ruling and issued a notice to Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Khalid Jawed Khan to discuss the “constitutionality of the [deputy speaker’s] decision” to dismiss the no-trust motion on the basis of Article 5 of the Constitution.

Article 5 obliges every citizen to be obedient to the Constitution and law and says that “loyalty to the State is the basic duty of every citizen”.

In its written order, the court further observed that “prima facie, there is neither a finding recorded in the matter nor was a hearing granted to the affected party” as far as the deputy speaker’s ruling is concerned.

However, the deputy speaker, in his detailed four-page ruling issued by the National Assembly Secretariat on Sunday evening, declared a “foreign state was interfering in the internal affairs of Pakistan and Prime Minister Imran Khan was its primary target”.

Suri said he could not give details about the foreign intentions and its links to the no-confidence motion, but they could be provided in an in-camera session. The deputy speaker also based his ruling on the recent meetings of the National Security Committee, federal cabinet and Parliamentary Committee on National Security that were briefed on the ‘threat’.

A joint petition, filed by the PPP, PML-N and JUI-F through Farooq H. Naek, Azam Nazir Tarar and Kamran Murtaza, has also requested the apex court to declare the ruling of the deputy speaker, as well as the advice of the prime minister to the president to dissolve the National Assembly and the subsequent dissolution of the assembly as illegal and unconstitutional.