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Suo motu notice on political crisis: PML-N lawyer urges SC to summon intelligence chiefs

06 Apr, 2022
The legal team of the opposition parties have completed their arguments and from today (Wednesday) the lawyers of the PTI, the president of Pakistan, and the speaker would argue their case. AFP/File
The legal team of the opposition parties have completed their arguments and from today (Wednesday) the lawyers of the PTI, the president of Pakistan, and the speaker would argue their case. AFP/File

The Supreme Court has been asked to summon intelligence chiefs and to hear them in-camera on the “threat letter.”

Makhdoom Ali Khan, representing Shehbaz Sharif, said if the Supreme Court wanted to check the loyalty of the members of the opposition parties then on the instruction of my client submit that premier intelligence chiefs be summoned and hear them in-camera in the chambers.

Raza Rabbani, who appeared on behalf of Pakistan Peoples’ Party-Parliamentarians (PPPP,) said the Court may summon the original text of the cable and also the minutes of the meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC). In order to have a finding under Article 5 Constitution of 1973, independent proceedings have to be initiated which may include the formation of a Judicial Commission to examine the veracity of such proceedings. Advocate Ashfan Ghazanfar, who has also filed the petition, urged the bench to summon Asad Majeed, former Pakistani ambassador to the USA, to probe the letter.

A five-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, on Tuesday, heard the suo motu taken by the CJP on the deputy speaker’s ruling on the no-confidence vote. The legal team of the opposition parties have completed their arguments and from today (Wednesday) the lawyers of the PTI, the president of Pakistan, and the speaker would argue their case.

The chief justice said the formation of the caretaker government is not taking place due to proceeding of the apex court regarding the matter.

The chief justice made it clear that they would only examine the legality and constitutionality of the ruling of the deputy speaker on the no-confidence. The CJP said it is not the practice of the Court to indulge in the matters pertaining to policies, State policies or the foreign policies. He said that they would only examine the legality and constitutionality of the ruling.

Makhdoom Ali argued that the speaker National Assembly after the no-confidence resolution move against him could not give Ruling on the no-confidence resolution. The counsel said on April 3 it was shown on all the TV channels that the deputy speaker read out the prepared ruling and at the end of it read out the speaker’s name.

He argued under Article 95 of Constitution when two stages were passed then the logical step was the voting on the no-confidence resolution. He said the conduct of the prime minister becomes irrelevant once the procedure under Article 95 starts, adding the prime minister may be the purest human being or a noble man but leave granted for voting then that has to be concluded. He said the Rule (37) only can be implemented for the requirement of the Article 95 of the Constitution.

It is the ambit of the Constitution that one man cannot block the views of the majority members on no-confidence resolution against the prime minister. He said the court would police the irregularities of the procedures of the law or the illegality of constitution.

Upon that Justice Muneeb Akhtar said trichotomy of power between the organs of the State has been described in 1973 Constitution. He said the intent of the Constitution is very clear. If they would accept the argument that the court can inquire into the proceedings of the Parliament, then a floodgate would open and the High Courts and the Supreme Court would be flooded with the irregularities of procedure.

Makhdoom Ali replied the Court has to see each case and treat it individually on the touchstone of Article 69.

Raza Rabbani, representing Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP), requested the Court to restore status quo ante as it was on 3rd April, 2022 before the start of the sitting of the National Assembly.

He in his written argument stated that the malafide in law, stems from the deputy speaker applying clause (1), Article 5, Constitution, 1973 without an application of mind and or a judicial finding before him. In violation of sub-rule (7), rule (12), the Rules, the speaker prorogued the session of the National Assembly.

He contended that the purported Ruling given by the deputy speaker on the resolution for a vote of no-confidence against the prime minister is not in conformity with the Rules and the Constitution when placed in juxtaposition to the Ruling of the Speaker, on the same subject, is void ab initio and of no legal effect.

Raza Rabbani submitted once a resolution for a vote of no-confidence has been moved there is no provision in the Constitution of 1973, or under the rules which allow the speaker and or the presiding officer to dispose of the resolution in any other manner except by putting it to the vote of the House. The Constitution itself provides that without a vote the resolution cannot be disposed of unless it is withdrawn by the members who have moved it.

If Article 95 is invoked and a resolution for vote of no-confidence has been submitted against the prime minister then under the Explanation, clause (1), Article 58, Constitution of 1973, the prime minister cannot dissolve the National Assembly during the pendency of such a resolution.

The deputy speaker without holding a preliminary investigation, nor there being any judicial proceedings or finding from a court of law to this effect, came to the conclusion that the said MNAs who were movers of the Resolution, for a vote of no-confidence, against the prime minister, are allegedly in violation of Article 5, Constitution of 1973.

He said that the Court is not being asked to examine the Ruling on the basis of the bars contained in Article 69, Constitution of 1973, but is being asked to evaluate the ruling; Can, the deputy speaker interpret the application of Article 5, Constitution of 1973, without the presence of a Court finding, and dispose of the Resolution for the vote of no-confidence against the prime minister on the basis of Article 5, Constitution of 1973.

The Court is being asked not to examine the procedure and or internal proceedings of the House but to examine the interpretation of the deputy speaker of Article 5 and Article 95, Constitution of 1973.

The question of the cable from a foreign Capital and Article 5 of the Constitution of 1973, are independent of Article 95, Constitution of 1973.

The chief justice asked the counsel of National Assembly speaker to submit the minutes of the NA proceedings conducted on the no-confidence motion filed against PM Imran.

Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan said; I am not bound by any instruction as the Court has issued him notice under Rule 27 of the Supreme Court Rules, 1980. He said the case of national importance and involved the fundamental constitutional case. He said; “This will be his last case as a AGP as I don’t want to the indicted by history.”

The case was adjourned until today (Wednesday).

The story was originally published in Business Recorder on April 06, 2022.