ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved decision on Speaker Punjab Assembly Pervez Elahi’s petition against the provincial chief minister’s election.
The court will announce the decision at 5:45 PM today.
A three-member SC bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar heard the petition filed by Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, a candidate for the CM’s office, against the ruling of Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari over the fate of PML-Q votes in Punjab CM’s election.
Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari, in his ruling, had rejected 10 votes of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid’s (PML-Q) members relying upon the supreme court’s verdict that votes of those lawmakers, who defied the party leadership’s instructions, would not be counted.
The counsel for Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Mohammad Mazari, Irfan Qadir, informed the Supreme Court that his client had instructed him not to participate further in the case proceedings and he would instead file a petition for review of the court’s decision not to constitute a full bench.
PPP counsel Farooq H. Naek also declined to participate in the court proceedings.
The development comes as the court resumed hearing PML-Q leader Chaudhry Parvez Elahi’s petition challenging the deputy speaker’s ruling in the recently held re-election for the Punjab chief minister, which led to Hamza Shehbaz’s victory.
During the course of proceedings, Additional Attorney General Amir Rehman said he would assist the court in accordance with Article 27 of the Constitution.
The chief justice remarked that the bench had not been provided with even one legal argument in favour of constituting a full bench during yesterday’s hearing.
He advised lawyers to remain in the court and watch the proceedings.
The legal question had not been answered yet, he added.
He said the question was whether the party head could issue instructions to the parliamentary party.
“According to the law, the parliamentary party makes the decision who to vote for. The party head can send a reference in case of deviation from the party policy.”
He said that a full-court bench could not be formed for this question.
The chief justice said lawyers for all sides had been given time to present their arguments.
The Supreme Court had dismissed the caretaker cabinet in 1988, he added.
He said that the chief executive was the head of the cabinet.
He said that the court wanted to wrap up the matter of Punjab chief minister as soon as possible as it could not be convinced to constitute a full bench.
He said that a full bench could not be formed till the second week of September and said the court would now hear arguments on the case’s merit.
There was a crisis in the province because of this case and further delaying tactics would not be tolerated in this case, he added.
The chief justice said that 21st Amendment was brought up during the hearing where former SC judge Azmat Saeed had observed regarding the 18th Amendment that vote would be cast in accordance with the party head’s instructions.
He said that the present case was different and the court would need assistance.
Article 63-A did not include the question of who would give the instructions, he said and added that the question was only about the consequences of defection at the time of the interpretation.
He said that if someone had comprehended the Constitution incorrectly, the interpretation could be cancelled.
He said that misinterpreting the Constitution meant that the Constitution had not been understood correctly. Out of 17 judges, eight had given their opinions on the 21st amendment, he added.
He said that this judgement was not the majority’s decision because a majority of nine judges was required while the full bench had comprised 17 members.
He said that he wanted to wind up the case at the earliest because of issues of governance and the crisis in Punjab.
He asked whether the Supreme Court could be bound by the decision of eight of its 17 judges.
The majority of the full-court bench did not agree with the party head issuing directions, he added.
He said that those who boycotted court proceedings had shown enough grace to sit and watch them.
Barrister Ali Zafar counsel for Parvez Elahi said that the court had heard detailed arguments yesterday and the matter here did not concern the interpretation of Article 63-A.
He said that the court had already interpreted it before. Here, the matter concerned the directions of the party head, he added.
He said that as per the 18th Amendment, the party head was given the power to take action against dissident members.
Zafar said that in the judgement regarding the 21st Amendment former SC judge Jawad S Khawaja had declared Article 63-A against the Constitution and was of the opinion that the law stopped members from voting freely.
He said that a parliamentary party and the party leader were two different things.
Justice Ijaz said that as per the Constitution, the party head ensured implementation of the parliamentary party’s decision.
The chief justice said that the parliamentary party did not take decision on its own.
He asked the counsel what did the law say on whose instruction should the vote be cast?
Barrister Zafar responded that the Constitution stated directions regarding the vote were issued by the parliamentary party.
The chief justice asked whether the parliamentary party was separate from the party head.
The counsel replied that a law was introduced during former President Pervez Musharraf’s tenure that empowered the head of the parliamentary party, instead of the party chief but the law was repealed through the 18th Amendment.
Justice Munib Akhtar asked about the definition of the party chief.
Justice Ijaz asked where was the word parliamentary leader used?
Advocate Zafar said that parliamentary party was mentioned in the law concerning political parties in 2002.
Justice Ijaz said that the word parliamentary leader instead of parliamentary party was a mere mistake.
The chief justice said that Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain’s lawyer had informed the court that a letter was sent to all party MPAs with clear instructions.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Counsel Imtiaz Siddiqui replied that the way voting was done for the re-election before the court as the federal government had utilised all its resources and all party chiefs were present in Lahore at the time.
The chief justice asked Deputy Speaker Mazari and PPP’s counsels to rethink their decision to boycott court proceedings.
He said that the court would reach its decision in a “better way” if the counsels for all parties assisted the bench.
Barrister Ali Zafar said that the matter of the Chief Minister had been under discussion for three months.
All the PML-Q lawmakers knew which candidate to vote for, he added.
He said that the apex court had previously decided that a person who had been disqualified could not be the party head.
The chief justice said that arguments had been made on the important role of a party head.
Advocate Zafar said that no one was disputing the importance of the party head. A party head could issue directives to the parliamentary party head but could not dictate him, he added.
Chaudhary Pervez Elahi’s counsel Barrister Ali Zafar said that the deputy speaker did not give the ruling according to the decision of the ECP.
Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that the decision of the Election Commission was also referred to in the court on Monday (yesterday).
He asked which law stated that the apex court was bound by the decisions of the ECP.
Ali Zafar replied that no law bound the Supreme Court to the decision of the Election Commission.
Justice Ijaz asked how many de-seated members had participated in the by-election?
Advocate Faisal Chaudhry said that out of the 20 dissidents, 16 contested as PML-N candidates and two contested independent elections.
He said that of the 18 who contested the elections, 17 were defeated.
The chief justice directed Faisal Chaudhry to speak at the rostrum next.
Justice Ijaz said that according to the defence, instructions were given by party head Imran Khan in the case of defecting members.
He said that the defence had stated that if the ECP’s decision was annulled, 25 members would be reinstated.
Barrister Ali Zafar said that according to the decision of the High Court the ECP’s decision was a past and closed transaction.
The supreme court gave a unanimous decision on the election of the chief minister on July 1, he added.
Justice Ijaz said that the by-election agreed to by the court should be allowed and that it was also assured that a run-off election would be conducted based on the results of the by-election.
Ali Zafar said that PML-N leader Hamza Shehbaz had given a statement in the Supreme Court and that he had not objected to the by-election.
Chief Justice Bandial said that the matter of the interpretation of Article 63A had been settled and that there was no need for a further explanation.
” The advocate general of Punjab has also tried to interpret Article 63A and while he made a good effort, his interpretation is incorrect”, he added.
Additional Attorney General Aamir Rehman said that the court had taken notice of rule 27(A) and that only the attorney general could appear in the notice of rule 27(A).
The chief justice responded that the attorney general was abroad and that they could not wait for him.
Aamir Rehman said that he was seeking permission to submit the reports.
He said that the court had said it was necessary to obey the instructions of the party chief.
To which Justice Ahsan replied that the deputy speaker did not refer to this court decision in the ruling.
Justice Munib Akhtar said that it was necessary to give power to the parliamentary party according to Article 63(A).
Strengthening the parliamentary party was like strengthening the parliamentary democracy, he added.
The additional attorney general said that according to the 2015 SC decision, the party head could gave instructions.
He said that the decision of the Supreme Court must be implemented until it was revised.
Justice Munib said that it was not mandatory to implement every decision of the Supreme Court.
He termed the Additional Attorney General’s arguments Rehman’s strange and said that there was no question of voting in this case.
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