Thursday April 18, 2024

Will opposition succeed in no-confidence against Senate chairman?

By Tariq Butt
July 06, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The opposition parties have decided to take a big plunge to remove Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani and have landed themselves in a difficult situation where they have to cross behemoth hurdles before success despite having a clear majority.

Some dominant factors will creep in to thwart the no-confidence motion whose passage will be a morale booster for the hard-pressed opposition parties, especially the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) but its defeat is bound to bring paramount embarrassment and anguish to them.

Since word go, Sanjrani has no political party to fall back on to get elected in the first instance or survive now and is solely dependent upon other dynamics to be in office. Despite holding the position since March 2018, he is still party less.

The biggest challenge before the opposition parties will be to manage clinching all their votes. Seven days after the announced moving of the no-trust resolution on July 9 will be too crucial and critical for maintaining the discipline in the ranks as any slipping away of votes of the sponsors of the motion in the secret ballot will cause damage to them and even may result in defeat. Obviously, it is not possible to identity the deserters in such poll. There were some defections from the PML-N in Sanjrani’s election as the Senate chairman.

By embarking upon the bumpy trajectory of ousting Sanjrani, the PML-N and PPP are poised to vent out their dismay and consternation over the stern actions being taken against their top leaders with a few of them already in jail and some more fearing arrest in the coming days.

Even before the voting, another challenge for the opposition is to pick up its consensus candidate. Some opposition senators, The News talked to, were convinced that if Raza Rabbani was nominated, he has the bright prospects of getting all the votes of the movers of the resolution. The PML-N and PPP want their nominees to be fielded.

It is believed that the primary decision about the candidate will be taken by incarcerated top leaders – Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari – as they have been doing since their parties have renewed collaboration.

Under the Rules of Procedure & Conduct of Business in the Senate, the resolution will have to be moved by at least one-fourth of the total members of the Senate for Sanjrani’s removal.

Rule 12 says the no-confidence motion so received by the Senate Secretary will be forthwith circulated among the senators. After such notice has been received, the Senate shall not be adjourned to a date later than seven clear days excluding closed holidays (without counting the starting day or the finishing day).

After the expiry of these seven days, the motion for leave to move the resolution will be entered in the names of the members concerned in order of the day for the first working day. No other item will be included in the order for the day fixed for a motion for leave to move this resolution.

Immediately after the motion has thus been moved, the Presiding Officer (PO) will call such of the members as may be in favour of the leave being granted to rise in their seats and, if at least one-fourth of the total membership does not so rise, he will declare that the member has not the leave or, if such membership so rises, call upon the member concerned to move the resolution.

Further, the Senate will not be adjourned until the motion for leave is disposed of or, if leave is granted, the resolution has been voted upon. According to the rule, voting on the resolution will be by secret ballot which will be held in such manner as the PO may direct.

Sanjrani will not preside over the Senate sitting in which the resolution for his removal is fixed for consideration. Except with the PO’s permission, a member will not speak on the resolution for more than fifteen minutes. However, its mover and Sanjrani may speak for thirty minutes or such longer time as the PO may permit.

If the session during which such a notice has been received has been convened by the Chairman in pursuance of a requisition [by the opposition members], the Senate will not be prorogued until the motion has been disposed of or, if leave is granted, the resolution has been voted upon.

However, Article 54 (3) of the Constitution says on a requisition signed by not less than one-fourth of the total membership, the Chairman will summon the Senate to meet at such time and place as he thinks fit within fourteen days of the receipt of the requisition; and when he has summoned it only he may prorogue it.

This means that if the Senate is not in session when the no-confidence motion has been filed with its secretary, the opposition will have to requisition it first. The chairman may take a couple of weeks to convene it “within fourteen days of the receipt of the requisition”. This will provide ample time to those opposing the motion to lobby against it.

However, if Senate is holding its normal session summoned by the President of Pakistan where the no-trust resolution is moved, it, under Rule 12, can’t be adjourned a date later than seven clear days excluding closed holidays after its receipt.