The Supreme Court postponed the hearing of the complaint filed against National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri’s “unconstitutional act” to tomorrow (Wednesday).
Suri had banned a vote of no-confidence against Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday, which the opposition called a flagrant violation of the Constitution.
The highest court’s five-member bigger bench, led by Justice Bandial and comprised of Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Aijazul Ahsan, Justice Mazhar Alam, and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel, started hearings this afternoon.
During the hearing, CJP Bandial also asked NA speaker’s counsel Naeem Bokhari to deliver the minutes of the key NA session conducted on March 31 to debate Prime Minister Imran Khan’s no-confidence motion.
PPP Senator Raza Rabbani stepped to the rostrum to submit his points at the start of the hearing.
“This is a civilian takeover.” “A posture was constructed through a purported cable that is based on malafide purpose,” the Senator explained, adding that the no-confidence resolution against the prime minister was tabled on March 28 but the NA session was delayed.
He insisted that Suri issued the verdict without presenting the materials to parliament on Sunday.
He contended that Rule 28 states that the deputy speaker, even if he has the authority, cannot issue a judgement.
“The ruling of the deputy speaker is unlawful […] a no-trust resolution cannot be rejected without a vote,” Rabbani stated.
He went on to say that the deputy speaker’s decision lacks constitutional protection under Article 69.
“Voting is required by the Constitution within the time frame specified.”
According to the PPP’s counsel, the no-trust motion cannot be denied under the Constitution.
“It can only be dismissed if those who filed it withdraw it, and the speaker can reject it only after voting on it.”
Rabbani went on to explain that President Arif Alvi was not required to file the reference seeking interpretation of Article 63A. He should have instead encouraged the prime minister to vote on the motion filed against him.
Rabbani asked the court to order the National Security Committee meeting minutes and the cable.
He also urged the formation of a judicial commission to investigate NA proceedings and a delay of proceedings in the case of Sunday’s assembly session.
“Instead of the proceedings in the assembly, the court should consider the misuse of authority and whether the speaker can invoke Article 5.”
Rabbani continued by noting that they want the arguments to be finished and that the court issues a concise order today.
“[We] shall issue an order if all parties finish their arguments,” the chief justice responded.
The PML-lawyer N’s makes his case.
After Rabbani finished his remarks, PML-N attorney Makhdoom Ali Khan spoke in front of the court.
He recounted the processes of the National Assembly beginning March 28, when Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif was allowed to table the no-trust resolution against Prime Minister Imran Khan until April 3, the date set for voting on the motion.
According to Khan, a debate on the no-trust motion was required under Rule 37 on March 31, but it did not take place.
He questioned whether Suri, as deputy speaker, had the authority to dismiss the resolution in this manner.
“The entire dispute is predicated on the question of whether the deputy speaker has the authority to make such a judgement,” he continued.
Khan claimed that the resolution of no-confidence in Prime Minister Imran Khan was approved by the majority of MNAs, with 161 MPs voting in favour of it.
Furthermore, he stated that the session could not be extended longer if a resolution of no-confidence was submitted against NA Speaker Asad Qaiser.
Justice Akhtar enquired whether Article 69 embraces the NA Rules governing the speaker’s authority.
At this point, Khan remarked that the NA Rules govern the conduct of the assembly’s business, and that no rule contradicts the approach outlined in Article 95.
Justice Akhtar enquired whether Articles 91 and 95 provide the speaker with constitutional protection against procedural flaws.
Khan reacted to the question by claiming that because the deputy speaker lacks the ability to reject the no-trust motion, Suri has engaged in constitutional tampering.
“The Constitution is silent on the mechanism for filing a no-confidence motion,” Justice Akhtar pointed out.
He inquired if the speaker’s authority is revoked if a motion of no-confidence is filed with the backing of 20% of MNAs and he may only hold polls on the motion after that.
When asked about this, Khan responded that Article 95 does not apply if it is thought that no member supports the prime minister except the speaker.
The PML-N counsel contended that the speaker’s ruling is unlawful since it violates Article 95, and that it should be examined.
“Only the House may decide whether or not the Prime Minister can continue to serve.”
Justice Mandokhel asked if the court may examine a decision made by a deputy speaker.
“Can a judicial review overturn the speaker’s ruling or examine the criminal conduct in connection with the no-confidence motion?” he inquired.
Khan answered affirmatively, stating that the Supreme Court has the authority to review and overturn an illegal judgement.
“Does the Constitution say that the SC can give a verdict on any illegal act performed within the Parliament?” Justice Akhtar said.
“You are opening the court’s doors to the Parliament’s proceedings, after which the court will have the ability to intervene in the Parliament’s business over trivial matters.” If the Supreme Court begins to rule out NA processes or rulings, there would be a flood of cases,” he adds.
Even if he invokes Article 5: CJP, the Speaker cannot reject a no-trust resolution.
On Monday, the Supreme Court heard arguments from PPP advocate Farooq H Naek, who stated that Suri’s order in Sunday’s session was intended to purposefully evade the Assembly’s voting procedure.
During the hearing, CJP Bandial asked Naek to argue why the deputy speaker’s decision is unconstitutional.
The CJP questioned how the speaker could rule on whether the motion was legitimate or not. “Does the speaker lack the authority to reject the no-confidence motion?” he questioned.
“Even if the speaker invokes Article 5 of the Constitution, the no-confidence resolution cannot be rejected,” ruled the CJP.
The CJP then inquired as to the extent to which the speaker is afforded constitutional protection under Article 69. “We want to make a decision before you,” he explained.
Naek requested that the case be concluded and the verdict be reserved.
However, the CJP stated that the court must also hear from additional respondents. Following that, the court adjourned the hearing until today.
The Supreme Court takes action on its own initiative.
CJP Bandial had taken ad hoc notice of the constitutional crisis that had emerged as a result of the occurrence. CJP Bandial stated in a written ruling released during the hearing on Sunday that his other justices approached him and expressed worry over the situation.
“Any directives and acts taken by Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Arif Alvi regarding the dissolution of the National Assembly must be subject to the order of this court,” CJP Bandial stated on Sunday after receiving the notice.
Previously, the Supreme Court barred state institutions from taking any extra-constitutional actions and urged them to behave rigorously in accordance with the Constitution, while also urging all political forces in the country to remain peaceful.
Petition of the opposition
The combined Opposition has also filed a petition to overturn the deputy speakers’ order, which delayed the National Assembly session indefinitely after Suri cancelled voting on the no-confidence vote, calling it “unconstitutional.”
According to the joint Opposition’s appeal, the speaker should be directed to call the session today because “the deputy speaker cannot adjourn the session because it is unlawful.”
Furthermore, the Opposition has filed a suit for constitutional violations against President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan, Speaker NA Asad Qaiser, and Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri.
The SCBA’s petition
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) has petitioned the Supreme Court over the constitutional problem.
According to the constitutional petition submitted by the SCBA, a vote on a no-confidence motion was required, and the speaker could not cancel the vote with a ruling.
It was also pointed out that the deputy speaker’s decision violated Article 95. (2). It went on to say that under Article 58(1), the premier cannot even “advise dissolution of the parliament” if a no-confidence resolution is lodged against him or her.
According to sources close to the situation, the case will be heard by a special bench of the Supreme Court.