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Tuesday August 09, 2022

Imran Khan clean bowled: Supreme Court hands down unanimous watershed judgment

Supreme Court blocks PTI’s all avenues of escape from no-trust move

April 08, 2022
The Supreme Court of Paksitan. Photo: supremecourt.gov.pk
The Supreme Court of Paksitan. Photo: supremecourt.gov.pk

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday declared the ruling of the deputy speaker of the National Assembly as contrary to the Constitution and of no legal effect.

A five-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, heard the suo motu case on the ruling of Deputy Speaker of National Assembly Qasim Suri rejecting the no-trust move against Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The five judges' unanimous verdict also declared the advice of the prime minister to the president on dissolution of the National Assembly on April 3 'contrary to the Constitution' and of legal effect.

Earlier, the bench had reserved the verdict on the matter after hearing the parties concerned and held that the verdict would be announced after Iftar at 7:30pm.

Consequently, the court resumed and announced the unanimous decision. Leaders of all the opposition parties, including PMLN President Shehbaz Sharif, JUIF chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto, were present.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umer Ata Bandial, while announcing the short-order, set aside the ruling of Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Qasim Suri of April 3.

"For detailed reasons to be recorded later and subject to what is set out therein by way of amplification or otherwise, these matters are disposed of in the following terms," says the short order announced by the court.

"The ruling of the deputy speaker of the National Assembly given on the floor of the house on April 3, 2022, in relation to the resolution for a vote of no-confidence against the prime minister under Article 95 of the Constitution (for which notice had been given by the requisite number of members of the assembly on March 8, 2022 and in relation to which leave was granted to move the resolution on March 28, 2022) and the detailed reasons for the ruling (released subsequently and concurred with by the speaker) are declared to be contrary to the Constitution and the law and of no legal effect, and the same are hereby set aside.”

The court declared that the resolution was pending and subsisting at all times and continued to so remain pending and subsisting.

"In consequence of the foregoing, it is declared that at all material times the prime minister was under the bar imposed by the explanation to Clause (1) of Article 58 of the Constitution and continues to remain so restricted," the court noted down in its short order.

The court held that the prime minister could not, therefore, have at any time advised the president to dissolve the assembly as contemplated by Clause (1) of Article 58. “In consequence of the foregoing, it is declared that the advice tendered by the prime minister on or about April 3, 2022, to the president to dissolve the assembly was contrary to the Constitution and of no legal effect," says the short order.

The court further declared that the order of the president issued on or about April 3, 2022, dissolving the assembly was contrary to the Constitution and of no legal effect, and it is hereby set aside.

"It is further declared that the assembly was in existence at all times, and continues to remain and be so," the short order reads.

"In consequence of the foregoing, it is declared that all actions, acts or proceedings initiated, done or taken by reason of, or to give effect to, the aforementioned order of the president and/or for purposes of holding a general election to elect a new assembly, including but not limited to the appointment of a caretaker prime minister and cabinet are of no legal effect and are hereby quashed”, says the order.

The court further declared that the prime minister and federal ministers, ministers of state, advisers, etc., stand restored to their respective offices as on April 3, 2022.

"It is declared that the assembly was at all times, and continues to remain, in session as summoned by the speaker on March 20, 2022, for March 25, 2022, on the requisition moved by the requisite number of members of the assembly on March 8, 2022, in terms of Clause (3) of Article 54 of the Constitution," says the short order of the court

The court held that any prorogation of the assembly by the speaker prior to its dissolution in terms as stated above is declared to be of no legal effect and is set aside.

The unanimous verdict of the apex court held that the speaker is under a duty to summon and hold a sitting of the assembly in the present session, and shall do so immediately and in any case not later than 10:30am on Saturday (April 9, 2022) to conduct the business of the house as per the orders of the day that had been issued for April 3, 2022, and in terms as stated in, and required by, Article 95 of the Constitution read with Rule 37 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly Rules, 2007.

The court further held that the speaker shall not, in exercise of his powers under Clause (3) Article 54 of the Constitution, prorogue the assembly and bring the session to an end, except as follows:

If the resolution is not passed by the requisite majority (i.e., the no-confidence resolution is defeated), then at any time thereafter; If the Resolution is passed by the requisite majority (i.e., the no-confidence resolution is successful), then at any time once a prime minister is elected in terms of Article 91 of the Constitution read with Rule 32 of the Rules and enters upon his office.

“If the resolution is passed by the requisite majority (i.e., the no-confidence resolution is successful) then the assembly shall forthwith, and in its present session, proceed to elect a prime minister in terms of Article 91 of the Constitution read with Rule 32 of the Rules and all other enabling provisions and powers in this behalf and the speaker and all other persons, including the federal government, are under a duty to ensure that the orders and directions hereby given are speedily complied with and given effect to.”

The short order noted that the assurance given by the learned attorney-general on behalf of the federal government in C.P. 2/2022 on March 21, 2022 and incorporated in the order made in that matter on the said date shall apply as the order of the court: the federal government shall not in any manner hinder or obstruct, or interfere with, any members of the National Assembly who wish to attend the session summoned as above, and to participate in, and cast their votes, on the no-confidence resolution.

The court further declared that its order will apply both in relation to the voting on the resolution and (if such be the case) in relation to the election of a prime minister thereafter.

The court, however, clarified that nothing in its short order shall affect the operation of Article 63-A of the Constitution and consequences thereof in relation to any member of the assembly if he votes on the resolution or (if such be the case) the election of a prime minister thereafter in such manner as is tantamount to his defection from the political party to which he belongs within the meaning of the said article. The court recalled that its order made in SMC 1/2022 on April 03, 2022, to the following effect, i.e., "Any order by the prime minister and the president shall be subject to the order of this court" will continue to be operative and remain in the field, subject to this amplification that it shall apply also to the speaker till the aforesaid actions are completed.

Soon after the court announced its short order, the leaders of the opposition parties termed the order of the court a victory of the rule of law and supremacy of the Constitution.

Political leaders hailed the SC decision and said today the apex court had buried the doctrine of necessity for good.

PMLN President Shehbaz Sharif, while talking to reporters outside the Supreme Court, said that the order of the court was the outcome of the prayers of the whole nation, adding that the apex court had saved Pakistan and the Constitution.

He said that by giving this historic judgment, the Supreme Court had maintained its dignity and independence. Sharif said that the judiciary had further strengthened the sanctity of the parliament and restored the dignity of the Constitution.

"This is a big decision announced by the apex court in the sacred month of Ramazan,” he said, adding that they will now fight jointly the war against poverty and price hike and will steer the masses out of the present crisis.

Replying to a question regarding the punishment he had pledged against those who had subverted the Constitution, he said that let the detailed judgment of the court come, they will decide in this regard.

JUIF chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman congratulated the whole nation on this victory of the opposition and said that the court had come up to the expectations of the people of the country, adding that the decision of the court has proved that the judiciary is fully independent and it has upheld its dignity, rule of law and supremacy of the Constitution. He announced that the nation would observe a Youm-e-Tashakur across the country.

Supreme Court Bar Association President Ahsen Bhoon also announced that the legal fraternity would observe a Youm-e-Tashakur across the country on Friday (today).

Earlier, the court had also summoned the Chief Election Commissioner and asked him if the commission would be able to hold the fresh election.

The CEC said that they could hold the election within 90 days but added that new delimitations of the country were to be completed across the country and that he had written so many letters to the prime minister in this regard.

Earlier, during the course of proceedings, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umer Ata Bandial said that the ruling given by the deputy speaker of the National Assembly was wrong. “One thing is quite clear that the ruling of the deputy speaker on the no-trust move was wrong,” the chief justice remarked.

Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif, while appearing before the court, submitted that as to what would be the status of the allegations leveled against them. Chief Justice Umer Ata Bandial told the opposition leader that it was for those who had leveled the allegations to prove them.

“We are loyal citizens but Mr Niazi, while saving his government, had dubbed us traitors,” Shehbaz Sharif said, adding that if Mr Khan brings a single proof, he will leave the politics for ever and face any punishment.

“We need a strong government and being a court we cannot give political decisions but have to decide about the future of the country and want that the country should remain prosperous and there should be a strong democratic process”, the CJP remarked. He said that the court would move forward in the best interest of the country and its people.

Shehbaz Sharif said he was an ordinary person and it was a matter of pride for him to appear before the apex court, adding that the assembly will automatically be restored once the ruling of the deputy speaker is set aside. He pleaded the court to restore the parliament for the betterment of the people of the country. He also pleaded that let the parliament resume the process of vote of no-confidence.

Similarly, Attorney-General Khalid Javed, during the hearing, avoided defending the ruling. He submitted that his focus was on new elections in the country. He said that those who had been dubbing the assembly as selected for the past four years now wanted to become the prime minister through the same house.

Naeem Bokhari, the counsel for Speaker Asad Qaiser and Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri, presented the minutes of the meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security in the SC.

During the hearing, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari told the court that three generations of the Bhutto family had rendered valuable sacrifices for democracy. He said the opposition wanted to bring in electoral reforms by forming a government. He said that forming a government for their benefit was not their priority.

To a question, he said that a bill on electoral reforms had already been drafted. Bilawal said that the unconstitutional ruling of the deputy speaker raised questions regarding democracy in the country.

Chief Justice Umer Ata Bandial said the judges acknowledged that three generations of the Bhutto family had rendered sacrifices for democracy, adding we should be allowed to issue the verdict strictly in line with the Constitution.

At the outset of the hearing of the case, Attorney-General Khalid Javed informed the court that leave was granted to move the no-trust motion against the prime minister on March 28 by the Lower House. He submitted that the military leadership was present in the National Security Committee (NSC) meeting, adding that the participants in the meeting were briefed on very sensitive issues.

The AGP submitted that he could not give his arguments over the minutes of the NSC meeting in the open court. He, however, said he could brief the court in-camera on the minutes of the NSC meeting.

He told the court that there were 161 MNAs in the assembly when the leave was granted on March 28, adding that 172 lawmakers are required for the no-confidence motion to succeed. He said that the prime minister had the power to dissolve the assembly as he was the chief stakeholder, adding that it is not necessary to give a reason for dissolving the NA. 

Comments

    Mahnaz Qaiser commented 4 months ago

    The courts must now decide the corruption cases against the politicians, before the next election. Exonerate or convict.

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