KARACHI: National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza has decided against forwarding a disqualification reference against Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Gilani to the Election Commission of Pakistan after his conviction by the Supreme Court in the contempt of court case.
In a five page ruling released on Thursday, the NA speaker said that no question of PM Gilani’s disqualification arises according to Article 63 of the Constitution and in light of the apex court’s verdict.
She further said in her ruling that there is no need to forward the disqualification reference against PM Gilani to the ECP as the SC had not raised the issue of his disqualification in the verdict.
Moreover, she argued in her ruling that "no specific charge" has been framed against the prime minister regarding "the propagation of any opinion or acting in any manner against the independence of the judiciary or defaming or ridiculing the judiciary" in the apex court's verdict.
PM Gilani was convicted for contempt of court on April 26 for not writing a letter to the Swiss authorities for reopening money laundering cases against President Asif Ali Zardari. According to Article 63(2) of the Constitution, the speaker has to decide on the prime minister’s disqualification as a member of parliament.
The article reads: “If any question arises whether a member of Majlis-e-Shoora (parliament) has become disqualified from being a member, the speaker or, as the case may be, the chairman shall, unless he decides that no such question has arisen, refer the question to the Election Commission within 30 days and should he fail to do so within the aforesaid period it shall be deemed to have been referred to the Election Commission.”
Dr Mirza, while referring to an earlier case, said in her ruling that the speaker "is not supposed to act merely as post office."
The speaker is not bound to forward the disqualification reference to the election commission, but has to "apply his mind judiciously" before he/she decides "whether any question in the nature of disqualification has arisen," she argued in the 11-point ruling.
She also expressed "serious concerns" over a letter sent by the SC's Assistant Registrar Iqbal Naseem addressed directly to the speaker and and the Chief Election Commissioner asking them for "further necessary action".
"The speaker holds a constitutional position ... and demands the highest respect from other organs of the State.." she complained, further adding that: "the contents of the letter are in bad taste and also against the parliamentary norms and traditions."
Furthermore, Dr Mirza also rejected a petition filed by Advocate Moulvi Iqbal Haider for Gilani's disqualification, terming it "without any merit" and "not maintainable."
To read a copy of the NA Speaker's complete ruling, click here.