ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Monday adjourned the presidential dismissal hearing seeking its opinion on Article 63-A of the Constitution until Tuesday.
A larger bench of five members of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan, Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel heard the presidential reference .
During the proceedings, Balochistan National Party (BNP) lawyer Mustafa Ramday suggested to the bench not to allow political parties to use his shoulder to adjudicate political disputes.
On this, Judge Ijaz said that it was not mandatory for the court to take up all the political issues. The court first decides on the maintainability of the motion and then issues its decision, whether or not it suits one party, he added.
Lawyer Mustafa Ramday said the presidential dismissal was filed for political gain and Section 95 could not be rendered ineffective by Section 63-A.
What did the Chief Justice ask if members were allowed to vote against their Prime Minister under Section 95? The lawyer replied that Article 95 allowed members to vote against party discipline. With this argument, he (Mustafa) had abolished the political party, in this way the political party would become a tea party, the CJP replied.
He said that under Article 63-A of the Constitution, the leader of the party has the power to overrule the leadership of the political party. He observed that if the party leader condones wrongdoing by a member, it would be a travesty of the Constitution and democracy.
Judge Ijaz said the Constitution does not condone defection. He said that a few individuals should not be allowed to derail the system and democracy. He said the Constitution empowered the court to defend him.
Lawyer Ramday said Section 95 could not be invalidated by Section 63A.
With that, the Chief Justice asked if Rule 95 allowed MPs to vote against their Prime Minister. The lawyer replied that Article 95 allowed members to vote outside of party discipline. He said one thing the bench understood from the discussion was that the party leader could revoke parliamentary party instructions.
He asked if the party leader condoned the wrongdoing against the party. It would be unconstitutional for a party leader to pardon a member’s wrongdoing, he added. He asked if the instructions of the parliamentary party did not matter.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawyer Babar Awan said the party is also part of the parliamentary party.
Lawyer Mustafa said the system would not collapse if members tendered their resignations over differences with the party.
Judge Jamal Khan said the system did not collapse over members defecting.
The attorney said Section 63-A was a complete code.
Advocate General Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Shumail Butt said the constitution grants free suffrage to ordinary citizens, not MPs. Article 51 refers to the free vote which applies to ordinary citizens, he added.
He said elected members must adhere to the party’s discipline policy. Section 63-A should be read in conjunction with Section 62, he added. He said that no provision of the constitution was for beauty. There would be serious consequences if Section 63-A were read in conjunction with Section 62, he added.
He said two forums were to consider defection even after parliament. Subsequently, the hearing of the case was adjourned until Tuesday.