Vote of the ruling party’s lawmakers would not be invalid if they vote in support of a no-confidence motion tabled by the opposition against Prime Minister Imran Khan, though the defection clause would later apply, parliamentary sources told Business Recorder.
They said that if a member of the ruling party voted in support of the proposed no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister, he/ she would have to face the defection clause – Article 63A. But, their vote would be deemed valid.
If a party head initiates the process stipulated Article 63A against any member he/she would be disqualified for the current parliament, but would be able to contest the next general elections and even by-polls for the current parliament.
The nine-party opposition alliance – Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) – on February 11 announced they fully intend to bring a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif is also engaged in talks with the opposition in parliament, particularly the two parties no longer members of the PDM, notably the party with the third largest representation in parliament, the PPP, and the ANP.
In addition, meetings with the government’s coalition partners are under way – with the MQM-P meeting with Shahbaz Sharif at his Lahore residence and Shahbaz Sharif’s meeting with PML-Q leaders Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Chaudhry Pervez Elahi at their residence on Sunday during which he sought support for the no-confidence motion.
PDM president and also JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, according to informed sources, held a “secret” meeting with Jahangir Tareen on Sunday night in which he sought his support for the opposition’s proposed no-confidence motion.
Tareen is leading a considerable number of PTI disgruntled lawmakers, both in the National Assembly and the Punjab provincial assembly, and his support would pave the way for success of the no-confidence move without coalition support for the motion, said a JUI-F leader on condition of anonymity.
Sources within the opposition alliance further maintained that the date for the no-confidence motion is undecided though there is unanimity that it would be tabled before Ramazan.
“Currently, we are in a process of gathering enough support for the move (no-confidence motion) by contacting the disgruntled PTI members and the ruling coalition partners. The moment we are confident of ‘numbers’, we will table the motion in National Assembly,” a PDM leader told this correspondent.
Article 63A also known as defection clause, says: “If a member of a parliamentary party composed of a single political party in a House (a) resigns from membership of his political party or joins another parliamentary party; or (b) votes or abstains from voting in the House contrary to any direction issued by the parliamentary party to which he belongs, in relations to- (i) election of the Prime Minister or the Chief Minister; or (ii) a vote of confidence or a vote of no-confidence; or (iii) a money bill or a constitution (amendment) bill; he may be declared in writing by the party head to have defected from the political party, and the Head of the parliamentary party may forward a copy of the declaration to the presiding officer (speaker or chairman]), and shall similarly forward a copy thereof to the member concerned: Provided that before making the declaration, the party head shall provide such member with an opportunity to show cause as to why such declaration may not be made against him.
A member of a House shall be deemed to be a member of a parliamentary party if he having been elected as a candidate or nominee of a political party which constitutes the parliamentary party in the House or, having been elected otherwise than as a candidate or nominee of a political party, has become a member of such Parliamentary Party after such election by means of a declaration in writing.
Upon receipt of the declaration under clause (1), the presiding officer of the House shall within two days refer the declaration to the Chief Election Commissioner who shall lay the declaration before the Election Commission for its decision thereon confirming the declaration or otherwise within thirty days of its receipt by the Chief Election Commissioner.
Where the Election Commission confirms the declaration, the member referred to in clause (1) shall cease to be a member of the House and his seat shall become vacant. Any party aggrieved by the decision of the Election Commission may within thirty days, prefer an appeal to the Supreme Court which shall decide the matter within ninety days from the date of the filing of the appeal. Nothing contained in this Article shall apply to the Chairman or Speaker of a House.”
This report was first published in Business Recorder on February 15, 2022.