Members running on the symbol of the party bound by his discipline: Justice Ahsan – Pakistan

Supreme Court Justice Ijazul Ahsan observed on Friday that in elections, voters affix a party’s electoral symbol, which meant lawmakers challenging a party’s electoral symbol were bound by party discipline. .

He made the remarks during the hearing of a presidential reference seeking the opinion of the Supreme Court on Article 63-A – which deals with the ineligibility of a parliamentarian for defection – of the Constitution.

A five-member bench, comprising Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ahsan, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail heard the motion.

Earlier in the hearing, Judge Mandokhail asked if a member [of the National Assembly] could express his distrust of the prime minister.

To this, the Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Jawed Khan said that a party ticket is a certificate which bears the election symbol. He said MPs elected to seats reserved for women and minorities do not receive votes from the people, but rather are nominated by their parties. Some of the MPs elected on reserved seats were also present at Sindh House, he said, referring to dissident PTI lawmakers.

There is a difference between the Prime Minister’s oath and that of an MP, he pointed out.

He said that in the subcontinent, political parties such as the Congress and the Pakistan Muslim League were formed in the name of great leaders and continue to exist.

In a parliamentary democracy, the AGP said, parliamentary sessions take place, but MPs are not meant to be “rubber stamps”. If they disagree with the party’s decision, they can resign, he suggested, adding that differences with the party did not mean going against the government.

Justice Mandokhail noted that the Constitution grants everyone the right to freely express their opinions. “Should [an MNA] be disqualified for expressing their opinions? he asked.

“The reference can optionally be returned”

Chief Justice Bandial, however, observed that the Holy Quran imposes severe punishment for dishonesty. “A person who breaks trust is called a traitor,” he remarked.

“But does a member declare to be bound by the party? he questioned, then asked the AGP when should an MP be declared a defector. He added that the Constitution nowhere specified that MPs had to be loyal to their parties.

“Section 62(1)(F) speaks of qualification, not disqualification,” Judge Bandial said.

Judge Munib Akhtar also questioned whether Rule 62(1)(F) would apply if Rule 63-A was violated, noting that Rule 63-A spoke of the vacancy of the seat.

Here, Judge Mandokhail asked if any MP had ever resigned after voting. AGP Khan replied that it happened in India and the Supreme Court declared the member a defector. “No one can be incited to deviate from the party,” he added.

Justice Mandokhel said the president could have called a meeting of political parties represented in parliament and discussed the matter with them before filing a presidential dismissal.

Judge Ahsan, here, pointed out that the president had asked for the interpretation of the Constitution and the court could not deviate from it. “It is possible that the reference will be returned,” he added.

Debate on Article 63-A

Meanwhile, Judge Bandial said the length of the Section 63-A disqualification can be included in the legislation.

“If the vote is not counted, there is no point in boarding another ship,” said Judge Munib.

Judge Mandokhail, meanwhile, asked whether a member had a right to speak under Rule 63-A. He observed, however, that if an MP went against the party, he had to suffer the consequences.

AGP Khan here argued that under Section 63-A no one has been disqualified so far and there is no need to prove money was accepted to vote against the party line.

Islamabad Police must cooperate with JUI-F

During the proceedings, the Attorney General of Islamabad said that the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) wanted to block the highway in Kashmir which Kamran Murtaza, the lawyer of JUI-F, was is said to be ready to cooperate with the police.

“We don’t understand why the administration [of Islamabad] scared,” Murtaza said.

To this, the CJP said that democratic values ​​must be upheld and instructed the Attorney General of Islamabad to cooperate with the party.

The court then adjourned the hearing until Monday after the AGP promised to finish its arguments by 2 p.m. on March 28.

On Monday, March 21, a two-member bench of the Supreme Court including CJP Bandial and Justice Akhtar seized the presidential credential and said a larger bench would hear the case.

The reference

AGP Khalid Jawed Khan had submitted the referral seeking the opinion of the SC on Article 63-A of the Constitution on March 21.

The reference, a copy of which is available from Dawn.com, presents two interpretations of Section 63-A and asks the court to indicate which of them should be followed.

According to the first interpretation, “khiyanat (dishonesty) through defections does not justify any preventive action, except the dismissal of the member according to the prescribed procedure, without further restriction or hindrance to the search for a new election”.

While the second interpretation “views this provision as prophylactic, enshrining the constitutional objective of purifying the democratic process by, among other things, eradicating the evil of defection by creating deterrence, among other things, by neutralizing the effects of a flawed vote followed by a lifetime ban on the member found involved in such constitutionally prohibited and morally wrong conduct.”

The development came days after several PTI lawmakers, who had been “hiding” at Sindh House in Islamabad, came to light, proving that opposition claims that members of the ruling coalition had “ conquered” were very true.

Prime Minister Imran Khan and some cabinet ministers had earlier accused the opposition of horse-trading ahead of the crucial vote on the no-confidence resolution, revealing that the capital’s Sindh House had become a buying and shopping hub of members.

Subsequently, the government had decided to file a presidential reference for the interpretation of Article 63-A with Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry saying that the high court would be questioned on the “legal status of the vote of the members of the party when they are clearly involved in equestrian affairs”. trade and change loyalties in exchange for money”.

The presidential remand was filed under Article 186 of the Constitution, which relates to the SC’s advisory jurisdiction.

In the referral, the President, Dr. Arif Alvi, asked the Supreme Court whether a member who “engages in an act of defection prohibited by the Constitution and morally reprehensible” could claim the right to have his vote counted and to have equal weight or whether there was a constitutional restriction to exclude such “tainted” votes.

He also asked the court to clarify whether a parliamentarian, who had been found guilty of defecting, would be disqualified for life.

“What other measures and steps can be taken within the existing constitutional and legal framework to curb, deter and eradicate the cancerous practice of defection, stepping and vote buying?” the reference further asks.

He warns that unless the horse trade is eliminated, “truly democratic rule will forever remain a distant unrealized dream and ambition”.

“Due to the weak interpretation of Section 63-A resulting in no prolonged disqualification, these members get rich first and then come back to remain available to the highest bidder in the next round perpetuating this cancer.”

Section 63-A

According to Article 63-A of the Constitution, a parliamentarian may be disqualified for defection if he “votes or abstains from voting in the House contrary to any instruction issued by the parliamentary party to which he belongs, relates to the election of the Prime Minister or Chief Minister; or a vote of confidence or a vote of censure; or a Finance Bill or a Constitution (Amendment) Bill”.

The article says that the leader of the party must declare in writing that the MP concerned has defected, but before making the declaration, the leader of the party “shall give that member an opportunity to justify why such a declaration cannot be made against him” .

After giving the MP an opportunity to explain their reasons, the leader of the party will forward the statement to the President, who will forward it to the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC). The CEC will then have 30 days to confirm the declaration. If confirmed by the CEC, the member “ceases to be a member of the Chamber and his seat becomes vacant”.

James V. Hayes