Pakistan: Votes to be cast, counted, in No-trust motion says Supreme Court

PAK: Supreme Court observes plea for No-confidence motion against sitting Prime Minister Imran Khan

Islamabad, March 25 (UNI) The Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Justice Ata Bandial, giving his remarks in the case of presidential reference seeking interpretation of Article 63(A) of the constitution said the Parliament, rather than references, should settle the matter, instead of asking the courts to fill in the blanks, The News reported on Friday. Meanwhile, Justice Mandokhel observed if a member casts his vote, then it must be counted as well. A five-member larger bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Umer Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsen, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Muneeb Akhtar and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel, heard the presidential reference ahead of the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan. Chief Justice Bandial observed that not counting a vote that has been cast during the no-trust proceedings against the prime minister would be “contemptuous”, adding that the real question was how long a dissident MNA could be disqualified for. The Article 63-A laid out the procedure for the disqualification of a parliamentarian over defection, he observed. Earlier in the hearing, Justice Mandokhail questioned whether an MNA’s vote could be counted in the proceedings conducted before his de-seating, observing that there was no mention of not counting a vote in the 18th Amendment. At this, Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Jawed Khan said that members elected to the assembly were bound by the party discipline. The Chief Justice observed that Article 63(a) is a discipline for an emerging political system that requires a lawmaker to stand with a party even if he is unsatisfied with the party. “On the political side, the lawmakers will not be able to take the party’s ticket again while on the constitutional side, they will face disqualification”, the CJP remarked. The chief justice further said that one cannot ignore the spirit of the constitution in the light of Article 63(a) which is also read with Article 62 (1) (f) of the constitution, adding, that there were two questions before the court — one as what would be the length of a disqualification after a member of the Parliament changes his loyalties and second when the disqualification will commence. Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel, observed that under Article 95 of the constitution, every member has a right to vote and if he casts his vote, then it is counted as well. The judge said that the prime minister has to relinquish after failing to get the majority vote. Justice Munib Akhtar another member of the bench observed that in Parliamentary democracy, the political parties have a central role adding that if a person is elected on a particular party’s ticket then he has to follow and obey the party discipline and has to cast his vote as per the mandate of his respective party. The vote is cast on party’s desire and that’s is it”, Justice Munib Akhtar remarked, adding that if everyone goes according to his own will then the political party will become a mob and will not remain an institution. Justice Munib Akhtar remarked that Article 63(a) is inserted for the purpose of discouraging the party discipline violation. The judge further observed that political parties are institutions and violating their discipline weakens it. The judge further asked if the debate is held within the party to which the AG replied as to how much more debate could be done when the party’s MNAs sit in Sindh House, criticizing the party. Chief Justice Umer Ata Bandail remarked that even if a member of the party is unhappy or angry he has to obey the party discipline. If not, he has to face the consequences. UNI ACL0948