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If Pakistan’s Supreme Court rules 3-2, is that an opinion or a verdict?

18 May, 2022
<p>The apex court’s Tuesday ruling on Article 63 interpretation has raised a question whether a 3-2 split decision counts as an opinion or a verdict? Screengrab/File</p>

The apex court’s Tuesday ruling on Article 63 interpretation has raised a question whether a 3-2 split decision counts as an opinion or a verdict? Screengrab/File

Pakistan’s top court has ruled that the vote of a parliamentarian who has defected from their party will not be counted on a motion. This ruling came on Tuesday on a petition asking the Supreme Court to interpret Article 63 of the Constitution (on the disqualification of a member of parliament). However, the ruling is not necessarily binding on the government, argues the former attorney general for Pakistan, Irfan Qadir.

The court ruled 3-2, raising the question of whether a split decision counts an opinion or a verdict.

Aaj Pakistan with Sidra Iqbal asked Qadir, who served as the AGP from April 12, 2012, to June 07, 2013, to shed some light on this legal point.

Opinion or verdict

The former AGP started by calling for a reading Article 186 of the Constitution to understand it.

“…186. Advisory jurisdiction.-(1) If, at any time, the President considers that it is desirable to obtain the opinion of the Supreme Court on any question of law that he considers of public importance, he may refer the question to the Supreme Court for consideration.

(2) The Supreme Court shall consider a question so referred and report its opinion on the question to the President, says the Constitution.

Qadir argued that the government should study the Constitution and ignore it if the ruling was conflicting with it. “We all know that whenever someone gives an opinion to someone since they have sought an opinion, then he has to take it and the government concerned which had sought it, is also bound to take that advice. Eventually, the government decides on this.”

However, Qadir was of the view that the “opinion” was not binding on the government.

Conflicting opinion

Qadir said the Supreme Court can give opinions that conflict with the Constitution, but ideally it should not.

“I used to point out a constitutional provision when I was AGP and the SC gave a ruling against the Constitution,” he said by way of example.