Friday June 21, 2024

NA rejects SC’s ‘minority’ ruling on Punjab polls

The resolution was moved by Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) lawmaker Khalid Magsi

By Ayaz Akbar Yousafzai & Muhammad Anis & News Desk & Waqar Satti
April 07, 2023
Balcohsitan Awami Party lawmaker Khalid Magsi reading out the resolution in the National Assembly before its approval. — Screengrab/PTV News
Balcohsitan Awami Party lawmaker Khalid Magsi reading out the resolution in the National Assembly before its approval. — Screengrab/PTV News

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has convened a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) — the country’s top security body comprising civil and military leadership — to discuss the “ongoing situation” as the government locks horns with the Supreme Court over the election verdict.

This announcement prompted the PTI chairman to observe that the PDM was bent on pitting the army against the judiciary and people.

Earlier, the National Assembly passed another resolution describing the SC order as unconstitutional and illegal and asked the prime minister not to implement it.

Sources told Geo News that the NSC would meet on Friday at the PM House in which the country’s present situation would be discussed and decisions would be taken on the course of action to be taken by the government.

The meeting would be attended by the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC), Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir, heads of PAF and navy, federal ministers for defence, finance, and information and other important cabinet members besides senior military officials.

Separately, the National Assembly on Thursday passed a resolution, rejecting the verdict of the three-member Supreme Court bench, declaring it unconstitutional and against the law and directing Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the cabinet not to implement it. “This House rejects minority decision by a three-member bench of the Supreme Court binding the prime minister and the cabinet not to implement it, being unconstitutional and against the law,” the resolution said. The National Assembly categorically maintained that the House rejects the minority decision of three judges and declares that the majority decision of four judges, which is as per the Constitution and law, is practicable.

PM Shehbaz Sharif was also present in the House when the resolution was passed with a majority voice vote. Khalid Hussain Magsi of the Balochistan Awami Party moved the resolution. Through the resolution, the House expressed concerns over undue judicial interference in political matters and supported elections to all assemblies on the same day under the Constitution and the law for economic and political stability in the country. The resolution said that the House believed that it was the only solution to the crises facing the country currently.

The House pointed out that in an earlier resolution, passed on March 28, the majority decision by four judges was supported and it was demanded that it should be implemented. “The resolution passed by the House on March 28 also demanded the judiciary to refrain from undue interference in political and executive matters, while various circles also demanded formation of full court reference but no heed was paid to the demand,” the resolution pointed out, adding that the viewpoint of political parties, except for one, was not heard. It observed the majority decision of four judges was ignored and a minority decision was imposed. “This was also against the apex court’s own traditions, ideas and procedure that a decision of minority is imposed on the verdict of majority,” the resolution added.

The House also supported the decision of the Supreme Court to suspend all the cases under Article 184(3) till the decision of the full court bench of the apex court. “The House also expresses its concerns over suspending implementation of the same through a circular,” it said. The National Assembly conveyed concerns over fixing an appeal against the delay in elections before a controversial bench and expressed serious reservations over announcing the verdict in haste, within minutes.

The House also expressed deep concerns over the wrong interpretation of Article 63-A of the Constitution, re-writing the same through a verdict of the Supreme Court and demanding that a full-court bench should review the same. Opposing the resolution, PTI MNA Mohsin Leghari warned that the House was committing ‘collective contempt of the court’. Leghari was the only member who opposed the resolution in the House.

While opposing the resolution, he warned that the House was treading on a dangerous path, and asked, “Are we committing contempt of court? The Constitution prohibits speaking against the judiciary in the House.” The PTI leader said in passing the resolution, the House was “committing contempt of court collectively.” He warned that a ‘war’ with the Supreme Court would be “very dangerous” and added that a resolution, such as the one tabled should be passed after rational consideration and not in a flow of passion. Defending the SC verdict, the PTI leader said that the apex court had only announced holding elections within 90 days as defined by the Constitution.

He further took issue that before voting on the resolution, the PTI was not given an opportunity to speak and present its case. “The opposition should be given an opportunity to speak as a democratic tradition,” Leghari protested. He said 90 per cent of the business of the House was based on criticising PTI Chairman Imran Khan. “Even though Imran is not in the House, he is on everyone’s mind,” Leghari declared, as other PTI members protested against the resolution.

Earlier, Minister for Communication and JUIF parliamentary leader Asad Mahmood alleged the judiciary was facilitating an accused person, who did not bother to attend the court proceedings. He also ruled out talks with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) at any forum and called for judicial inquiry against Imran Khan for violating the Constitution.

PPP parliamentarian Shazia Marri also criticised the verdict, saying that the controversial verdict was announced within minutes while a reference against the judicial murder of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was still pending with the Supreme Court for the last 12 years.

Leader of the Opposition Raja Riaz said the verdict was announced to facilitate an individual, saying that it would be remembered as a dark chapter in the country’s history.

APP adds: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said the government would only accept the decision of the SC full bench for elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Speaking at the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the Islamabad Lawyers Complex, he urged the Supreme Court chief justice to review the three-member bench decision and form a full court, whose verdict on election to the Punjab and KP assemblies would be acceptable to the government and all concerned. However, those judges who had earlier recused themselves, should not be made part of that bench, the PM said. He recalled that Justice Munir was the creator of the Doctrine of Necessity which took Pakistan down in a certain direction. “We respect the Supreme Court and justices and their decisions should apply to everyone.”

About the SC proceedings in the election case, he said that a nine-member bench was formed, which shrunk to three members after some judges recused themselves. The political parties were not made part of the proceedings despite requests, he noted.

The prime minister said had the demand for a full bench of the Supreme Court accepted, then everybody would have accepted the decision.

Furthermore, the decision of Supreme Court Judge Qazi Faez Esa was invalidated through a circular in a case, Shehbaz said. Then a six-member larger bench was formed for the same case. The Article 63A of the Constitution was rewritten and the appeal filed by the government in the Supreme Court was still not heard, he added.

The PM said no political party could evade elections as that would bury its politics. He said, on the one hand, a verdict was given that a prime minister was nothing without his federal cabinet but, on the other hand, this principle was not applied to the courts. He said all stakeholders should look at their conduct and decide whether they wanted to protect the future of coming generations or indulge in fights for their personal interests and take Pakistan in a direction from where nobody could return. “We have to protect the future of Pakistan which is faced with many challenges. We should take decisions with a cool head and stay united for the interest of Pakistan,” he said. Expressing delight at the construction of Lawyers Complex, Shehbaz Sharif said the project would be built at a cost of Rs1.8 billion.

Meanwhile, reacting to the NA resolution, PTI Chairman Imran Khan apprehended that the ‘tactics’ being employed by the PDM government will not only pit the armed forces directly against the judiciary but also against the nation. Writing on his social media platform, Imran tweeted, “It is now clear what PDM wants – any (which) way to get out of elections. They brought in an unconstitutional bill on SC & an NA resolution against Judiciary. Now tomorrow an NSC mtg called to try & use security as pretext for postponement of elections. This will pit armed forces directly against not just judiciary but also the nation.”