Pakistan's Supreme Court on Sunday barred all state institutions from taking any "unconstitutional" steps after the dismissal of the no-confidence vote in the National Assembly against Prime Minister Imran Khan and the subsequent approval of the president to dissolve the House at the advice of the embattled premier.
Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that all orders and actions initiated by the prime minister and the president regarding the dissolution of the National Assembly will be subject to the court's order as he adjourned for one day the hearing of the high-profile case.
Pakistan President Arif Alvi earlier dissolved the National Assembly (NA) on advice of Prime Minister Imran Khan, minutes after Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri rejected a no-confidence motion against the premier, who had effectively lost the majority in the 342-member lower house of Parliament.
Chief Justice Bandial took notice of the political situation and a three member bench held the initial hearing despite the weekend and issued notices to all the respondents, including President Alvi and deputy Speaker of the NA, Suri.
The court ordered all parties not to take any "unconstitutional" measures and adjourned the hearing until Monday.
Chief Justice Bandial said that all orders and actions initiated by the prime minister and the president regarding the dissolution of the NA will be subject to the court's order.
Former information minister Fawad Chaudhry said that the ruling given in the National Assembly deputy speaker for the dismissal of the no-trust motion against Prime Minister Khan was “final” and could not be challenged in any court of law.
Talking to the media outside the Supreme Court, the close aide of Khan said that the NA deputy speaker’s ruling came after completion of the constitutional process over the no-trust motion.
Earlier, the Opposition had demanded the top court to intervene and Shehbaz Sharif, Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, announced his party's decision to challenge the dissolution of the NA.
“We are going to challenge the ruling by the deputy speaker and advice by the prime minister to dissolve parliament in the Supreme Court,” he said.
Ahsan Bhoon, President Supreme Court Bar, said that the action of the prime minister and deputy speaker was against the constitution and “they should be prosecuted for treason under Article 6 of the constitution.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) also filed a petition asking the court to declare the ruling of the deputy speaker as unconstitutional along with the dissolution of the parliament.
The crisis erupted after Suri rejected the no-confidence motion, providing Prime Minister Khan to send an advice to the president of the country to dissolve the parliament, which he could not do until any outcome of the no-confidence vote.
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. "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,” he said.
Raja said 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.
Noted Indian lawyer and former minister Abhishek Manu Singhvi said that Prime Minister Khan's move was "constitutionally wrong".
"No dep spkr in any common law system has power 2dismiss no confidence motion on natl sec! Simply no jurisdiction(2) sc likely 2strike down & direct fresh no confidence immly (3) sc cji Umar Bandial, known 2me at Cambridge, Bats straight (4)dissolution by Imran also ctally impermissible since any #PM already a minority cannot dissolve & such advice not binding (5) cji #Bandial, with whom I hv not been in touch 4decades struck me as sober, balanced, knowledgeable & unruffled. So likely to strike down," Singhvi tweeted, listing out some key points on the issue.