Pakistan's Supreme Court on Thursday struck down National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri's controversial move to dismiss a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a major blow to the cricketer-turned politician who is now likely to face a no-trust vote in Parliament after the ruling.
Suri, who is associated with Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, on April 3 dismissed the no-confidence motion against the premier claiming that it was linked with a "foreign conspiracy" to topple the government and hence was not maintainable. Minutes later, President Ari Alvi dissolved the National Assembly on the advice of Prime Minister Khan who had effectively lost the majority.
Chief Justice Bandial, who is heading a five-member bench comprising Justices Ijazul Ahsan, Mohammad Ali Mazhar Miankhel, Munib Akhtar and Jamal Khan Mandokhel, declared as unconstitutional the controversial ruling by the deputy speaker regarding the rejection of the no-confidence motion in Parliament.
In a unanimous verdict, the five-member bench also declared dissolution of the parliament as unconstitutional.
The bench restored the parliament and declared the advice by Prime Minister Khan to President Alvi to dissolve the assembly as unconstitutional.
The court ordered the speaker to call the session of the assembly on April 9 at 10am to organize the no-confidence vote.
Security in and around the apex court was beefed up. Riot police forces were deployed outside the court building.
During the hearing, Chief Justice Bandial noted deputy speaker's ruling is, prima facie, a violation of Article 95.
Various lawyers appeared in the court to plead in the complex case. Naeem Bokhari represented deputy speaker Suri, Imtiaz Siddiqui appeared for Prime Minister Khan, Ali Zafar represented President Alvi and Attorney General Khaled Javed Khan represented the government.
Babar Awan appeared on behalf of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, Raza Rabbani for Pakistan Peoples Party and Makhdoom Ali Khan for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.
Apart from leading lawyers representing various parties, the court also called at the rostrum Shehbaz Sharif, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president and main opposition leader, and asked about his view on the way forward in the wake of uncertainty due to dissolution of assembly and announcement of fresh elections.
Shehbaz said how the opposition leaders can take part in the election after being labelled as "traitors". He left it to the court to decide but urged that rule of law should be adhered to and added that “we cannot face even our families after being called as traitors”.
He was referring to the ruling by the deputy speaker that the no-confidence motion was linked with a so-called "foreign conspiracy".
With the court ruling against the deputy speaker, Parliament is likely to reconvene and hold the no-confidence vote against Khan.