Speaker’s ruling case: SC to announce verdict at 7:30 pm today.
During the hearing of the suo moto notice on the rejection of the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Chief Justice of Pakistan said that the matter of the Punjab Assembly would be taken up by the Lahore High Court, we are only looking into the matter of the National Assembly.
A five-member larger bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial is hearing the case.
The arguments of the lawyers of opposition parties and bar councils have been completed and the arguments of Babar Awan, the lawyer of PTI have also been completed.
At the beginning of the hearing, Advocate General Punjab Ahmed Owais told the court that a very alarming situation had arisen in Punjab last night. Last night, Hamza Shahbaz was made Chief Minister in a private hotel. The Chief Justice said that we are not hearing the Punjab Assembly in these proceedings.
Advocate General Punjab said that a dictator had said that the constitution is a book of 10, 12 pages which I can tear at any time, on which Justice Umar Ata Bandial remarked that we should not get involved in the problems of Punjab.
Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel said that it was also shown on TV yesterday that barbed wire should be installed in the Punjab Assembly.
Justice Mazhar Alam inquired whether the assembly could be sealed in this manner. What are you doing in Punjab?
PML-N lawyer Azam Nazir Tarar said that where should the members of the assembly go when the assembly is locked, to which the Chief Justice said that the matter of Punjab will be taken up by the Lahore High Court. We are just looking into the matter of the National Assembly.
Lawyer of President Arif Alvi:
Barrister Ali Zafar, counsel for President Arif Alvi, while continuing his arguments, said that the proceedings of both the Houses of Parliament have separate privileges, to which Justice Umar Ata Bandial inquired whether the effect of Assembly proceedings in the present case was not out. While Justice Mazhar Alam asked that any unconstitutional move in Parliament is protected? We are sitting for the protection of the constitution. If there is any unconstitutional movement in the parliament, is there no solution?
Barrister Ali Zafar said that this problem is to be solved by the parliament and the solution of the problem is to go to the people. I understand your concern but we have to do what the constitution says.
Justice Jamal Mandokhail asked if there is anything unconstitutional with the parliamentarians then they can’t have any respect for it. Ali Tafar said that a member of the British House of Commons was not allowed to take the oath, the court ruled that they could not interfere.
Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that if this injustice is happening with the parliament then what to do? To which Barrister Ali Zafar said that if there are differences among the judges then can the parliament intervene? Just as the parliament cannot intervene, so can the judiciary.
Chief Justice of Pakistan asked whether the formation of federal government is a matter within the four walls of Parliament. The court may intervene if the outcome of a move is outside parliament, Ali Zafar said, adding that the election of a prime minister or a no-confidence motion is an internal matter of parliament, to which the Chief Justice replied, do you think the matter to elect Prime Minister is parliament’s internal matter?
The lawyer of the President said that if the parliament fails then the matter goes to the people. In order to protect the constitution, every article of the constitution has to be taken into consideration. If there is a difference of opinion among the judges, they are not listening to each other, can Parliament do anything? The answer is no, the court has to deal with the matter itself, the election of the Prime Minister and the issue of no-confidence motion is the prerogative of Parliament. The court can review the dissolution of the assembly.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that if a vote of no-confidence had been taken then it would have been known who would be the Prime Minister. Ali Zafar said that the court could not review both the election of the Prime Minister and no-confidence. The court should declare that even if an illegal act has taken place, then leave the decision to the people.
Justice Jamal Mandokhail remarked that it is the responsibility of the parliament to legislate, what will happen if the parliament does not legislate? On which the lawyer of the President of Pakistan said that if there is no legislation then the old laws will remain intact, democracy and elections cannot be separated, voters are the most powerful, the end of Junejo government was declared unconstitutional by the court. In the Junejo case, the court said that the matter was going to the elections and therefore the decision would be taken by the people.
The court should not get involved in political debate, just talk about the constitution: Barrister Ali Zafar
Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel said that the matter before us is a matter of no-confidence. Ruling came after the no-confidence motion. “Why don’t you explain what the constitutional crisis is?” If everything is going according to the constitution then where is the constitutional crisis?
The Chief Justice of Pakistan remarked that there was no constitutional crisis in the country, to which Barrister Ali Zafar said that he believed there was no constitutional crisis, to which Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that the Speaker’s ruling was apparently a violation of Article 95. If anyone is failing, can he hold such a rulings for election? Billions of rupees are spent on elections, the country is left helpless for 90 days by calling elections. Barrister Ali Zafar said that as far as the President is concerned, he follows the advice of the Prime Minister.
Justice Ejaz-ul-Haq said that PTI is still the party with the largest majority. If a coalition government is formed, is it possible to put the largest party against the wall? On which Barrister Ali Zafar said that he does not want to get involved in the political motives of the case, the court should not get involved in political debate, just talk about the constitution.
Arguments of PM’s lawyer Imtiyaz Siddiqui
When Imran Khan’s lawyers came to the rostrum, the Chief Justice said that he could not dissolve the assembly when there was no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister. The Speaker’s ruling is apparently against Article 95 of the Constitution. It is not a great design to defeat the mandate of the Constitution. Situation is not in the favor of national interest.
Court asks Parliament to clean up its own mess: Arguments of Imran Khan’s lawyer
Imtiaz Siddiqui said that the court had in the past refrained from interfering in the proceedings of the Assembly. In the case of Chaudhry Fazlullah, the members were prevented from voting and tortured. The court did not interfere in the parliamentary proceedings even in this situation. Interference in the proceedings of the House is beyond the jurisdiction of the judiciary. The court should ask the Parliament to clean up its own mess.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that it was stated by the petitioners that ruling could not take place after leave grant. The petitioners are of the view that ruling could have taken place before the motion of no-confidence was moved on March 28. What would you say on this issue?
Imran Khan’s lawyer said that if the speaker knows that there is external funding or there is a threat to the country’s integrity, then he will save the country by deviating from the law. The speaker made a better decision according to his oath. Opposition did not object to the presidency of the Deputy Speaker.
Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that the prerogative of the parliament and its limits are to be determined by the court. On which Imtiaz Siddiqui said that the Deputy Speaker made the decision according to his own mind, he is not accountable to the court for the decision given by the Deputy Speaker in the Parliament session. The Supreme Court cannot interfere in the proceedings of Parliament under Article 69.
Justice Muneeb Akhtar said that the decisions referred to by the Supreme Court are not binding on them while the Chief Justice said that the court will decide on the merits of the parliamentary proceedings. Does the speaker have any material available on the basis of which ruling passed? Was the ruling of the Deputy Speaker based on good faith?
Lawyer Imtiaz Siddiqui said that the Deputy Speaker relied on the National Security Committee, the individual cannot be the sole influence on the proceedings of the National Security Committee, to which the Chief Justice asked when the minutes of the National Security Committee were placed before the Deputy Speaker. On which the lawyer said that I do not know about the Deputy Speaker’s case, the Chief Justice said that do not talk about what you do not know.
The Chief Justice inquired as to whether, according to you, the Deputy Speaker had material on the day of voting. What will be the consequences of the Prime Minister breaking the limits of Article 58? The Deputy Speaker had no problem with the voting on March 28 but ruling came on the day of voting.
Imran Khan’s lawyer said, the Prime Minister stated that if there was malice, he would not have dissolved his own government. The Prime Minister said that it is known that billions of rupees will be spent on new elections.
Arguments of Naeem Bukhari, counsel for the Speaker and Deputy Speaker:
Naeem Bukhari said that I accept the arguments of Barrister Ali Zafar, I will not take much time of court, and the question was that point of order cannot be taken in no-confidence motion? The point of order can be taken at every opportunity including the no-confidence motion. You have shown patience for so many days, I will answer every question, to which Justice Mazhar Alam Mian Khel said that we are also eager to hear you.
Lawyer Naeem Bukhari said that he was aware of the limit of Article 95 and the time limit given in it, to which Justice Jamal Mandokhail asked whether it was unconstitutional for the Speaker not to hold a no-confidence vote.
Naeem Bukhari replied that the point of order could be taken at any time including the no-confidence motion. Would the court still intervene if the speaker rejected the point of order?
Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan asked the pending motion of no-confidence could be rejected at the point of order? On which Naeem Bukhari said that the Speaker can reject the motion of no-confidence on the point of order, the rejection of motion on the point of order has never happened, the Speaker has the power to reject the motion on the point of order. New elections have been announced and now the matter is with the people, the Supreme Court should not look into this matter now.
Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial asked there was any order of Leave Grant to present the motion? On which Naeem Bukhari said that approval of no-confidence motion does not mean that it cannot be rejected, the court also approves the petitions for hearing and later dismisses them.
Justice Ejaz-ul-Haq asked what is the difference between the word motion and Tehreek? To which Naeem Bukhari said that the words Motion and Tehreek are used in the same term.
Naeem Bukhari told the court that as soon as the assembly session started, Law Minister Fawad Chaudhry demanded a point of order.
Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel asked if there was a transcript of Fawad Chaudhry’s point of order. Naeem Bukhari said that I would also present the transcript of the point of order. The Speaker has the power to add whatever he wants to the agenda.
Justice Jamal Mandokhail questioned whether the inclusion of no-confidence motion in the agenda does not mean appearing for voting? Apart from the no-confidence motion, no other method of action of the parliament is mentioned in the constitution. Can the constitutional process be stopped by resorting to assembly rules? Can the Speaker deviate from the constitutional process? Can any action be taken against the Speaker for deviating from the constitutional process?
Naeem Bukhari told the court that the constitution is silent on many issues, where the constitution is silent, rules are made.
During the hearing, counsel for the Speaker and Deputy Speaker Naeem Bukhari presented the contents of the Parliamentary National Security Committee before the court.
The Chief Justice asked that there are minutes of the parliamentary committee but who were the participants in it? Who gave the briefing in the National Security Committee? On which Naeem Bukhari said that National Security Advisor Moeed Yousuf gave a briefing in the parliamentary committee.
Justice Jamal Mandokhail inquired whether the Foreign Minister was present in the Parliamentary Committee on National Security. On which Naeem Bukhari said that it seems that the Foreign Minister was not in the Parliamentary Committee on National Security, Justice Jamal Mandokhail said that he is the Foreign Minister of the country and was not present in the important meeting while the Chief Justice said that Moeed’s name was not even in meeting’s minutes.
Naeem Bukhari, while referring to Question Hour in the Assembly after the motion of no-confidence was moved, said that all the opposition members had asked him not to ask any question, only to hold a vote.
The Chief Justice remarked that according to records, 11 people had attended the national security meeting, but the names of those briefing the parliamentary committee were not included in the minutes of the meeting.
Justice Jamal Mandokhail said that the invitation came to the Foreign Minister, shouldn’t he have been in the meeting? While Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhail said that the notice was issued on March 31, a meeting was also called on the same day.
Naeem Bukhari said that what happened in the parliamentary committee on national security, who was present and who was not it is to tell the attorney general. Our ambassador is called for a meeting on March 7 and told that no-confidence motion succeeds, then you will be forgiven.
Justice Mazhar Alam said that the ambassador was called on March 7 and the no-confidence motion was leave granted on March 28.
The Chief Justice said that 57 members of the Assembly were present in the March 31 meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security. The members of the Assembly were aware of the black and white situation. Your minister presented point of order on April 3. Why you should not have given the time to opposition to respond over point of order?
Justice Muneeb Akhtar said that Fawad Chaudhry had asked the Speaker for a ruling against no-confidence motion as it contradicted Article 5. It could also be that members say the no-confidence motion is unconstitutional, so they will not vote in favor. Why not the speaker did started voting on no-confidence after ruling? Dismissing the no-confidence motion in the ruling may not have been the Speaker’s prerogative. It is also possible that some members would not have been satisfied with the Speaker’s ruling. Voting on the no-confidence motion is a constitutional requirement.
Justice Mazhar Alam said that it seems that the Deputy Speaker has been instructed to read this. The Deputy Speaker also mentioned the name of Speaker Asad Qaiser at the end of the ruling while Justice Jamal Mandokhail said that ruling against the intentions of public representatives does not come out of the parliamentary proceedings?
Lawyer Naeem Bukhari said that whoever is inside the parliament has constitutional protection, to which Justice Ejaz-ul-Ahsan asked whether the points raised in the ruling of the Deputy Speaker were not out of the parliamentary proceedings.
Naeem Bukhari said that the final decision will be of the court, our position is that the ruling cannot be reviewed, the House had the power to pass the ruling, to which the Chief Justice asked how you are saying that the Deputy Speaker’s ruling can be challenged in front of the speaker.
The Chief Justice said that we were shocked when the Assembly was dissolved while Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan asked that if the Assembly had not been dissolved then what was the procedure for the affected members? Justice Jamal Mandokhail asked if the members could bring new no-confidence motion?
Naeem Bukhari said that the Speaker has endorsed the ruling of the Deputy Speaker, on which the Chief Justice said that according to the rules, on the point of order the other side can be given an opportunity to speak, despite the option the other side was not given a chance to hear. On which Naeem Bukhari said that the court can review the dissolution of the assembly.
Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan said that except for the ruling basis on which the assembly was dissolved, how can the rest of the things be reviewed?
Lawyer Naeem Bukhari said that Article 69 mentions the Deputy Speaker along with the Speaker, to which Justice Jamal Mandokhail asked, “As an officer of the court, don’t you think that Article 95 is not a complete code?” Don’t you think that violation of Article 95 is a violation of the Constitution?
Naeem Bukhari said that the court has to decide to what extent it should interfere in the parliamentary proceedings.
Arguments of Attorney General:
In his arguments, the attorney general said that there was no deadlock on any issue at the moment as the case was under hearing. On March 28 leave granted on no-confidence motion, to which Chief Justice asked who grants leave? Attorney General replied that House grants leave.
Khalid Javed Khan said that the military leadership also participated in the meeting of the National Security Committee. I could not give arguments on the contents of the National Security Committee in open court, the National Security Committee meeting was briefed on highly sensitive issues.
Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail asked, “Attorney General, is this your last case?” To which he said that if you wish then I accept. Justice Jamal Mandokhail said that listen to the whole thing, we want you to give arguments in the next case also.
The Attorney General said that the court can decide without questioning one’s loyalty to the country. There should be 172 members for no-confidence motion. When leave granted on March 28 there were 161 members present in the house. Article 17 gives anyone the right to join any party, to contest elections.
He said that the Prime Minister, like the members of the Assembly, remains in office till the presence of the Assembly. The Prime Minister would have been the last person to dissolve the Assembly if it had not happened. It is not necessary to give reasons to the Prime Minister for dissolving assembly. If the President does not decide on the recommendation of Prime Minister then the Assembly will be dissolved after 48 hours.
He further added that he would only give arguments on the no-confidence motion, voting on the no-confidence motion was not a fundamental right of any member, the right to vote is subject to the constitution and assembly rules. The courts do not intervene.
The Chief Justice said that you are saying that the right under Article 95 is subject to rules? On which Khalid Javed Khan said that the government is formed in the House and our constitution gives the right to Prime Minister to dissolve the Assembly.
Barrister Khalid Javed Khan said that there is no firewall in the interference of the court in the proceedings of the parliament, but there should be a limit. He did not think that the parliamentary proceedings have full immunity.
Justice Muneeb Akhtar remarked that the Speaker is the caretaker of the House, he does not sit only for his personal satisfaction, the Speaker cannot give his opinion and say goodbye to the other members.
The Attorney General said that it is not necessary to have 20% i.e. 68 members for approval of the no-confidence motion, what will happen if 68 members approve the motion and reject more than that?
Justice Muneeb said that if 172 members approve the motion, will the Prime Minister resign? On which the Attorney General said that 86 members are required to fill the quorum in the Assembly, it is necessary to prove the majority at the time of approval of the motion.
All the 172 people will come forward while presenting the motion. The difference between 3 to 7 days between presenting the motion and voting is not without reason. In seven days, the Prime Minister can convince his dissident members.
Justice Muneeb said that when 20% of the members moved the motion, it should have been discussed.
The Attorney General further said that 172 members should be present for the motion and 68 members were required for the motion to be moved, 168 came on that day, 100 opposed it. The Deputy Speaker could not allow such motion to be moved, in the constitution. Nowhere is it written that if the majority opposes, the motion will be rejected. The approval of the motion is mentioned in the Assembly Rules.
The Chief Justice said that according to Article 55, all decisions in the Assembly will be taken by majority of the members present in the House. One thing we can clearly see is that ruling is wrong. The real problem arose from the dissolution of the Assembly. Assemblies cannot be dissolved during a no-confidence motion. It is unconstitutional to dissolve assemblies during a no-confidence motion.
The Attorney General said that the assemblies could be dissolved only when the no-confidence motion was passed.
The Chief Justice inquired that you say election is the only solution, why there was no other solution? I want the parliament to be successful and keep working.
The Attorney General said that nowhere in the world does the Leader of the Opposition become the Prime Minister, in many countries they do but the Leader of the Opposition does not work when he becomes the Prime Minister.
Attorney General Khalid Javed Khan said that no member of the Assembly can be called a traitor without a court decision, I will not defend the ruling of the Deputy Speaker.
The Chief Justice said that stability is needed in the country. You say that if the assembly is restored then there will be public processions. We want to complete the case today, will move forward looking at the national interest and practical possibilities.
Justice Jamal Mandokhail said that the court should not make a decision based on the circumstances and results, the court has to make a decision keeping in view the constitution.
Chief Justice of Pakistan will announce the verdict at 7:30 pm today (Thursday)
Details of yesterday’s hearing:
During the hearing yesterday, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial remarked that apparently the no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister was going to be successful but ruling came on the day of voting.
The Chief Justice had said that Article 95 had been violated in the present case and when the Constitution was violated, the court could interfere in the proceedings of Parliament.