Sunday, Mar 26, 2023

Pakistan: Chief Justice Takes Note Of Dissolution Of National Assembly

Pakistan: Chief Justice Takes Note Of Dissolution Of National Assembly

National Assembly Deputy Speaker rejected the Opposition's no-confidence motion, following which Imran Khan advised President Arif Alvi to dissolve the assembly and call fresh elections.

Supporters of Imran Khan
Supporters of Imran Khan AP Photo/Rahmat Gul

Pakistan's Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial has taken notice of the dissolution of National Assembly and the rejection of the no-confidence vote against Prime Minister Imran Khan.

In a controversial ruling, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri rejected the Opposition's no-confidence motion against Khan, following which Khan advised President Arif Alvi to dissolve the assembly and call fresh elections. He made the announcement in a brief address to the nation. 

Minutes after Khan's announcement, President Alvi dissolved the National Assembly as per the advice.

Chief Justice Bandial arrived at the apex court, which was especially opened on a Sunday in light of the day's unusual turn of events. Bandial has taken suo motu notice of the current situation in the country, the spokesperson of the Supreme Court said.

The joint Opposition has prepared a petition to cancel the ruling of Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri. The leaders of the joint Opposition as well as the ruling party leaders also arrived at the apex court.

Khan had effectively lost the majority in the 342-member National Assembly after his allies joined the Opposition. In an address to nation earlier this week, Khan cited the "foreign conspiracy" letter and alleged that a foreign country is trying to remove him from office in league with the Opposition. 

Pakistan's Opposition termed the entire process to reject no-confidence against Khan and dissolution of assembly against the Constitution and its lawmakers refused to leave the premises of the parliament house.

"We are going to challenge the ruling by the deputy speaker and advice by the prime minister to dissolve parliament in the Supreme Court,” said Shehbaz Sharif, Leader of the Opposition in the parliament.

Leading constitutional lawyer Salman Akram Raja said that the “entire procure by the deputy speaker and the advice by the premier to dissolve the assembly was unconstitutional”. He said that the Supreme Court would decide the entire controversy. 

He said, "The basic issue is determining the legality of the ruling by the deputy speaker. If the top court says that the ruling is according to laws, then the advice by the prime minister will also be as per law."

Raja added the illegality of the ruling would also make the advice as illegal as the prime minister cannot give advice to the assembly after a no-confidence motion was presented in the parliament against him.

Ahsan Bhoon, President of the Supreme Court Bar, said that the action of the Khan and Suri was against the Constitution and “they should be prosecuted for treason under Article 6 of the constitution".

Noted Indian lawyer and former Union minister Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that Khan's move was "constitutionally wrong".

He said in a tweet, "No deputy speaker in any common law system has power to dismiss no-confidence motion on national security! Simply no jurisdiction. The Supreme [is] likely to strike down and direct fresh no-confidence immediately."

He further said Khan's advice was not binding.

Dissolution by Imran Khan is also actually impermissible since any PM who has already lost a majority cannot dissolve the assembly and such advice is therefore not binding, said Manu Singhvi.

Khan had effectively lost majority because of rebellion within his party PTI and withdrawal of support from two coalition partners. 

With PTI inputs