ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan Thursday observed that intervening in the powers of National Assembly speaker could affect Article 69 of the Constitution, prohibiting courts not to inquire into proceedings of the parliament.
The observation was made by a two-member bench, comprising Chief Justice Umer Ata Bandial and Justice Ayesha A Malik, while hearing a petition of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) challenging a judgment of the Islamabad High Court (IHC), which had declared as legal the phased acceptance of resignations of its MNAs by National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf.
The court observed that prima facie, intervening in the powers of National Assembly speaker could affect Article 69 of the Constitution, which stipulates that the validity of any proceedings of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) shall not be called into question on the ground of any irregularity of procedure.
Addressing PTI counsel Faisal Chaudhry, Chief Justice Umer Ata Bandial said they had repeatedly asked the party that its first responsibility was to ensure its presence in parliament. “The mandate of the public is trust in its representatives. People have elected you for five years, thus it is incumbent upon you to ensure that trust and your presence in the parliament,” the CJP told the PTI counsel.
The Chief Justice asked the counsel to point out any error in the judgment of the high court for which they had moved the Apex Court. Faisal Chaudhry submitted that in its judgment, the high court had ruled that intervention could not be made in the powers of National Assembly speaker. At this, the Chief Justice observed that the Islamabad High Court had given its decision after examining the law deeply. “It is quite difficult for the court to intervene in the powers of speaker in such matters,” the CJP remarked.
The counsel, however, contended that the PTI MNAs had themselves tendered resignations and submitted them with the speaker, adding that the then Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri had accepted them. “Once the resignations were accepted, it could not be verified, hence the process of verification of the resignations was not correct,” the counsel contended, adding that they had challenged the judgment of the high court on that grounds.
The Chief Justice, however, observed that the decision taken by the-then deputy speaker looked like his intention displayed during the course of the no-confidence move against the then prime minister.
Justice Ayesha A Malik observed that the decision of Qasim Suri did not mention any name whose resignation had been accepted and asked how could the PTI approach the court as a party. “Tendering resignation before the parliament is an individual matter of a member, so how the court could restrain the speaker from exercising his power,” she observed, adding that Qasim Suri had approved the resignations of 123 members in a single paragraph without mentioning any name. “This is a wrong example and today it might be reasonable for you but tomorrow you can also face its brunt,” she added.
The PTI counsel, however, contended that the incumbent speaker had accepted some resignations and he was holding elections in his favorite constituencies. “It is our stance that elections could not be held in favorite constituencies,” he submitted.
He also contended that except Shakoor Shahd, none of their MNAs had refused to tender resignations. The Chief Justice, however, observed that the speaker had his own way of work under the law, then how could the court intervene. “Have you ever asked the speaker as to why he was not verifying the resignations,” the CJP asked the counsel.
The Chief Justice observed that a large number of people had been displaced due to the recent floods and they had no food and water to drink, adding that people from abroad were coming to help them. “Whether the PTI has realised about the cost of holding by-elections on 123 seats,” the CJP asked the counsel, to which he replied that Imran Khan had collected some Rs13 billion for flood affected in the recent telethon.
The Chief Justice then asked him to seek instructions from the party chief as well as making further preparation for the case and adjourned the hearing for an indefinite period. Meanwhile, the PTI also filed a civil miscellaneous application in the court seeking postponement of elections on eight National Assembly seats scheduled for October 16
The PTI prayed the court to postpone the election schedule till the final decision of the petition challenging the verdict of Islamabad High Court, adding that if it was not postponed. the appeal under challenge could be affected.
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