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SC rejects coalition govt’s request to form full court bench

Updated 25 Jul, 2022

CM Punjab say mutaaliq case ki samaat - kamraa e adalat kaarwai ki pal pal ki khabar | Aaj News

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday rejected the coalition government’s request to form a full court bench on petitions related to the recently held Punjab chief minister’s re-election while adjourning the hearing until tomorrow (Tuesday).

The top court, which was hearing PML-Q leader Pervaiz Elahi’s petition challenging the July 22 ruling of Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Mohmmad Mazari in the provincial chief minister election, announced its reserved verdict on the ruling coalition’s plea. The verdict, scheduled for 5:30pm, was announced at quarter to six.

A three-member Supreme Court bench is hearing the matter. The bench is led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial and comprises Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar.

Earlier the Supreme Court asked for further arguments and legal clarity regarding the issue of the formation of a full bench as sought by the coalition government.

Political parties’ heads have to listen to their members: CJP

The head of political parties have to listen to their members, Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial said during arguments in the case when Federal Law Minister Azam Tarar stood at the rostrum.

“A senior parliamentary leader had complained about dictatorship in parties during a case on presidential reference,” the chief judge said. “The parliamentary party has also its own will.”

The CJP added that the party was made strong after a constitutional amendment. He maintained that party leaders sitting abroad used to give instructions to the members of Parliament.

“The role of party head is essential. But the parliamentary party must be empowered in parliamentary matters,” he said, “The continuation of the party head’s dictatorship will not stop the way of hereditary politics.”

He remarked that the parliamentary party should be independent.

Full court argument

Hamza’s lawyer asked what would happen if the court approved the appeals of the defected members in the appeal.

Will this mean that the 25 votes that were removed from Hamza would have to be added again, he asked and requested the court that the cases related to this point be heard together.

“Is this the only argument for making a full court,” Justice Akhtar asked.

So far I have not given arguments, Mazari’s lawyer Qadir said.

All my requests are that the full court should hear all the cases together, Awan said on ending his arguments.

CJP Bandial told Chaudhry Shujaat’s lawyer Salahuddin that the court has not made latter the party in the case when he came to the rostrum.

“My lord, the party is also mine, the letter is also mine,” Salahuddin said.

The CJP told the lawyer that he could argue on full court.

“I also want a full court to be formed,” Salahuddin said.

Pervaiz Elahi’s lawyer Ali Zafar said that Deputy Speaker Mazari waved the letter of Chaudhry Shujat after announcing the results.

10 votes of PML-Q MPAs were rejected while citing the court decision, Zafar said.

“Hamza Shehbaz got 179 votes and Pervaiz Elahi got 186 votes. Hamza was declared [Punjab] chief minister [by the deputy speaker] after the rejection of 10 votes,” he said.

The deputy speaker also relied on Article 63A of the Constitution, Zafar said.

“Do not argue on the merits of the case,” the CJP said, “argue on the composition of the full court.”

He added that the other side has given arguments on the full court. “You tell me why a full court should not be made?”

“How do you reject the other side’s full court request?” the CJP asked.

Article 63 A is very clear, Zafar said, adding that the party leader has to give the declaration as per the instructions of the parliamentary party.

The court has already given an opinion on Article 63A of the Constitution after detailed hearings, the lawyer said.

Party directive and declaration

Justice Ahsan said asked Mansoor Ahmad, Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz lawyer, to please point the court decision referred to by the PA deputy speaker.

“A vote against party policy will be rejected, that’s the point,” Awan said.

Party directive and declaration are two different things, Justice Ahsan observed. Can a party leader be the leader of a parliamentary party? he asked.

Article 63A was added to the Constitution after the fourteenth Constitutional amendment, the lawyer said, adding that the tweak further clarified it.

“According to the eight-member decision of Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, the party chief takes all the decisions,” Awan said

Before the 18th Constitutional amendment, Article 63A referred to the instructions of the party chief, the judge said, adding after the tweak 18th Amendment, the party leader was replaced by the parliamentary party.

“The decision on Article 63A is against the precedents of the past,” Hamza’s lawyer said and demanded of the apex court to form a full court bench on the issue of Article 63A.

“If the five-member bench feels that the previous court decision was wrong, then the full bench can decide it,” Awan said.

“Can a party leader be the leader of a parliamentary party?” Justice Ahsan

The JUI-F was named after the party chief, Awan replied.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman was not part of the parliamentary party, Awan said, adding that the parliamentary party was not accountable to the people, Mansoor Awan

“The role of the party chief is very important,” Justice Ahsan said, “the party leader decides to send a reference against the defected member.”

He added that the parliamentary party would give instructions on whom to vote for whereas references would be sent by the head.

The Constitution was clear that the members would be instructed by the parliamentary party, Justice Ahsan said.

“The [PA] deputy speaker [Dost Muhammad Mazari] gave the ruling relying on our decision. He went further than our judgment and gave the ruling. The question is whether the deputy speaker correctly interpreted our decision or not,” he said.

Punjab Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar once again interfered in the court proceedings. Mansoor Awan was young and has a lot of burden on his shoulders, he said.

“Mansoor Awan is making very good arguments,” the CJP said. The court stopped Awan from taking instructions from the Law Minister

You are the lawyer of Punjab CM, how can you take instructions from the law minister, Justice Akhtar told Hamza’s lawyer.

“Don’t bother with the questions, continue the arguments,” the CJP said.

Was Chaudhry Shujaat’s letter read in the House before voting? Justice Akhtar asked.

“I have no information regarding this,” Awan said.

The letter was part of the ruling of PA deputy speaker according to records, Justice Akhtar said.

“Your position is that the interpretation of the deputy speaker is correct. If the court decision is wrong, even then the votes cannot be rejected,” Justice Ahsan said.

The Punjab law minister said that all the party members had received Chaudhry Shujaat’s letter before the meeting started.

Members of the PTI were instructed by party chief Imran Khan in the first election of Punjab CM, Awan maintained, adding that the Election Commission of Pakistan had declared the members deviant on the instructions of Imran.

Awan presented Imran’s directives issued to MPAs in court. The election commission had accepted Imran Khan’s instructions, he added.

“What is the ECP decision on this matter?” the CJP asked.

“What does the election commission have to do regarding this issue?” Justice Ahsan asked.

“You have also attached the decision of the ECP. You should also read the decision of the ECP,” CJP Bandial said.

Justice Ahsan observed that dissident party members and the facts of the ongoing case were different. Defected members said that they didn’t get any party instructions, he said.

“The issue here is different,” Justice Ahsan said, “all 10 members did cast their vote.”

The judge added that no member voted on the other side. “None of the ten members said that the parliamentary party meeting was not held.”

“There is no dispute on the parliamentary party meeting and directive of the Q-league,” Justice Ahsan said.“

None of the parties called the Q-League meeting controversial, he remarked. “Can the party leader change the decision of the parliamentary party meeting?”

Review petition on Article 63A, full court bench request

Latif Afridi, former Supreme Court Bar Association president, arrived at the rostrum and said review petitions on Article 63A (disqualifications for membership of Parliament) of the Constitution were pending before the court.

“The temperature is very high at the moment,” Afridi said after asking the court to make a request that the chief justice allowed.

“The decision against the ruling of the election commission is also pending,” he said, “a full court bench should be formed to avoid a constitutional crisis.”

He was of the view that the crisis was deepening as the whole system was at stake. The judiciary and Parliament are also part of the system, he said and reiterated his demand to review the interpretation of Article 63A.

All the cases should be heard together by forming a full court consisting of available judges, the former SCBA president said.

“We are part of this institution and guardians of the sanctity and respect of the court,” SCBA President Ahsan Bhoon said.

“Is the Punjab Assembly deputy speaker’s lawyer in court?” asked CJP Bandial

Mazari’s lawyer Irfan Qadir came to the rostrum and said he would assist the court in reaching a “correct decision”.

The PPP has also voted in the Punjab CM election, PPP lawyer Farooq H Naek said.

To this, the CJP said that the bench would listen to his position too and advised the lawyer to sit on his seat. “Don’t let anyone take your seat,” CJP Bandial said.

“Chair is something that comes and goes, a person should stay on his feet,” Naek said

“The chair of the person who talks like this often goes,” the CJP said.

Mazari’s lawyer Qadir also requested the court to form a full bench and argued that judges, who ruled at first, were hearing the case that was causing anxiety.

“It should be clear what the legal question is being heard. It is not my job to tell the question on which the hearing is being held, let the court decide,” Qadir said, “The issue is probably the powers of the parliamentary party and the party chief.”

He expressed confusion over the situation. To this, the chief judge said according to them, there was no ambiguity in the decision.

“You should listen to the court first,” the CJP reprimanded him. “If you won’t listen to us, then take a seat.”

Mazari’s lawyer said: “You are the chief justice, you can rebuke us, but the Constitution also mentions the dignity of human beings.”

Justice Ijazul Ahsan said that he was calling him “honourable.”

Qadir added that he was in court to assist the bench, adding: “Don’t think we are here to fight.”

“We have understood the point you are trying to raise,” Justice Muneeb Akhtar said, adding that it would be appropriate to give a chance to another lawyer.

Security outside SC

“Diversion placed for both sides of traffic from Zulfiqar Chowk to G-9 Signal of Rohtas Road,” the Islamabad police said in a tweet. “Alternatively, G-9 Service Road can be used.”

The bench comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar allowed on Saturday Hamza Shehbaz to remain “trustee” chief minister until today (Monday) and adjourned proceedings.

Updates so far

  • Security is tight outside SC
  • Up to one-kilometre road to Supreme Court has been cordoned off
  • PTI lawyers, Ahsan Iqbal, Muhammad Zubair, and Moonis Elahi at SC

List of politicians allowed entering Supreme Court

  • Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari
  • PDM head Fazlur Rehman
  • JUI-F leader Maulana Asad Mehmood
  • MQM leader Khalid Mehmood Siddiqui
  • BNP-M leader Akhtar Mengal
  • Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah
  • PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi
  • PML-N leader Khawaja Saad Rafique
  • PML-N leader Azam Nazeer Tarar
  • PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal
  • PML-N leader Atta Tarar
  • PML-N leader Ayaz Sadiq
  • PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi
  • PTI leader Asad Umar
  • PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry
  • PTI leader Shireen Mazari
  • PTI leader Babar Awan
  • PTI leader Pervez Khattak
  • PML-Q leader Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain
  • PML-Q leader Chaudhry Saalik

The top court in its ruling made it clear that Hamza would work in accordance with the law and the Constitution and was not allowed to use his power as chief minister in any way that would benefit him personally. But, a 37-member cabinet of Punjab’s “trustee” CM Hamza took the oath of their offices on Sunday evening. The PTI and the PML-Q described it as a violation of the court order.

The Pakistan Peoples Party has filed a petition in the court, asking it to become a party in the case. The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam has called for a full bench court to hear the case.

The apex court has ordered PML-Q leader Chaudhry Shujaat to appear in front of the court.

“The leaders of the parties will be allowed to enter the courtroom/supreme court with the permission of the Supreme Court administration. Lists have been provided by the party leaders for entering the Supreme Court,” police said. It added that no one would be allowed to stage rallies or congregations around the apex court.

It was of the view that it was important that all processes were kept peaceful and orderly for Pakistan’s “positive global image”. Special arrangements have been made to maintain the flow of traffic.

Contempt of court petition against CM, governor, deputy speaker

Meanwhile, PTI leader Mian Aslam Baig filed a contempt of court petition against Punjab CM Hamza, Governor Balighur Rehman, and PA Deputy Speaker Mazari in the SC’s Lahore registry.

The Punjab CM election was not held as per the orders of the SC, the petition said, adding that Mazari did not follow the top court directives.

PML-N vows boycott

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, in a press conference outside the top court, said that his party the PML-N would boycott court proceedings if the Supreme Court does not constitute the full-court bench to hear the case.

This is a developing story