Court reverses steps taken by Imran govt - GulfToday

Court reverses steps taken by Imran govt


Imran Khan

Pakistan’s political crisis took a dramatic turn when the five-judge Pakistan Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, delivered a unanimous verdict declaring the decision of Pakistan National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri to throw out the no-confidence motion under Article 5 of the Constitution. The court said it was unconstitutional not to have allowed the no-confidence motion.

It was a clearly mala fide action by Deputy Speaker Suri because immediately after his decision, Prime Minister Imran Khan recommended the dissolution of the National Assembly to President Arif Alvi and also submitted the resignation of his cabinet. In its short order, the Supreme Court had reversed all the three decisions. It said that President Alvi’s decision based on Khan’s recommendation was invalid. So, the National Assembly is restored. And Prime Minister Khan and his cabinet’s resignation is null as well and therefore it had to be reinstated as well.

The judges closely questioned the decision of Deputy Speaker Suri, which was based on what Prime Minister Khan has shown as the plot of a foreign power to overthrow his company. The court took cognizance of the National Assembly’s Security Committee being apprised of the contents of the letter that the Pakistan diplomat had to send to the government on the threatening message that if the no-confidence motion failed, it would be bad for the country. Prime Minister Khan and his Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry made the argument that the no-confidence motion moved by the opposition was at the behest of the foreign power.

Khan argued that the foreign power summoned the Pakistani diplomat on March 7 and the opposition moved the no-confidence motion on March 8. And that therefore there was a connection between the two. Deputy Speaker Suri accepted the government’s interpretation and invoked Article 5 of the Constitution which demanded loyalty to the state of Pakistan, and he ruled that the no-confidence motion was against the country and therefore unconstitutional.

The court heard the arguments made

on behalf of the deputy speaker, of the prime minister, of the president and of the government as well as those of the opposition parties. One of the arguments put forward by the government lawyers was that the Supreme Court cannot interfere in the proceedings of the National Assembly. The court said that the rejection by the deputy speaker of the no-confidence motion moved by the opposition was unconstitutional, and the court was only ruling on the constitutionality aspect.

The court showed that the ruling party and the presiding officers cannot misuse their authority to thwart a motion moved by the opposition. Prime Minister Khan was looking forward to an election while avoiding what looked like a certain defeat in the National Assembly. But he played questionable when he got the deputy speaker to invoke an article of the Constitution to block a legitimate no-confidence motion of the opposition. At one point during the arguments in the court, Chief Justice Bandial observed that the deputy speaker’s ruling meant that he suspected not just one member of the National Assembly but the whole of the opposition in the National Assembly. The Supreme Court avoided any kind of political slant in dealing with the issue.

It also said in its order that the article in the Constitution pertaining to defectors would not be affected by the court order. It annulled the other decisions of the prime minister and the president because they flowed from the unconstitutional decision of the deputy speaker of the National Assembly. The court had kept to the narrow legal path, and avoided any kind of political bias. The political crisis in Pakistan is not over. What the Pakistan Supreme Court did through its decision on Thursday was to remind the ruling party that the constitution cannot be manipulated to serve its own partisan ends.

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