The Supreme Court will announce its decision regarding the presidential referendum seeking its interpretation of Article 63-A, which deals with the banning of members of the judiciary due to rebellion, at 5:30 pm today.
A five-member bench headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, and comprising Judge Ijazul Ahsan, Judge Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Judge Munib Akhtar and Judge Jamal Khan Mandokhail, completed the trial today.
The first trial took place on March 21 with a two-member bench, after which CJP Bandial formed a large bench to hear the case, which took news and public talks in the country after 12 members at the time. The ruling PTI, which occupied Islamabad’s Sindh House, has come out openly against its party on the issue of a no-confidence motion tabled by the opposition against then-prime minister Imran Khan.
During today’s hearing, PML-N’s lawyer Makhdoom Ali Khan filed a detailed complaint in court.
Following the conclusion of the hearing, the high court is expected to announce its verdict at 5:30 pm today.
In terms of Article 63-A of the Constitution, parliament may be barred on the grounds of treason if “a vote or refusal to vote in the House against any directive issued by a parliamentary party, in relation to an election of Parliament; the prime minister or prime minister; the draft Constitution (amendment).
The article states that the head of the group must declare in writing that the MNA is affected but before issuing the declaration, the party head will “give such a member an opportunity to show why the declaration may not be made to him”.
After giving the member the opportunity to state their reasons, the party leader will forward the notice to the speaker, who will forward it to the Chief Electoral Commissioner (CEC). The CEC will have 30 days to verify the declaration. If approved by the CEC, a member “shall cease to be a member of the House and his or her seat shall be vacant”.
Prior to his dismissal, the PTI government filed a presidential referendum on the interpretation of Article 63-A, asking the high court about the “legal status of the party members’ vote when they were actively involved in the horse trade and changing their allegiance.
In a statement, President Dr Arif Alvi also asked the high court if a member with “constitutional action and insurgency” could claim the right to have his or her vote counted and given equal weight or if there was a constitutional barrier to excluding those “polluted” votes.
He also asked the court to clarify whether a member of parliament, who had been declared a heretic, could be allowed to live for the rest of his life. Alvi warned that unless horse trade was abolished, “true democracy would always be a dream come true.”
“As a result of the poor interpretation of Article 63-A involving long-term disqualification, such members begin to enrich themselves and return to remain available to the highest bidder in the next round of cancer progression.”
The referendum was held at a time when the opposition party was vying for the support of several PTI representatives before the vote in a vote of no confidence in former Prime Minister Imran Khan. In the end, the votes of the opposition members were not required for the removal of Imran, as the opposition party was able to mobilize support from government-affiliated political parties.
However, the role of the opposition legislators was crucial in the election of opposition candidate Hamza Shehbaz as Punjab’s prime minister who won 197 votes, including 24 PTI rebels.
Lots to follow.