First-ever no-trust motion against Senate chair tabled

Published July 10, 2019
Opposition senators meet to discuss the submission of a no-confidence resolution against Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani. — Screengrab from video provided by Nadir Guramani
Opposition senators meet to discuss the submission of a no-confidence resolution against Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani. — Screengrab from video provided by Nadir Guramani

ISLAMABAD: As the opposition submitted a no-trust motion against Senate chairman on Tuesday, Sadiq Sanjrani ruled out voluntarily resigning from the post.

In an informal chat with reporters, Mr Sanjrani said he would not step down voluntarily. “Moving a motion of no-confidence is a democratic right. I have no reservations about the resolution being submitted. I am still here and doing my job,” he remarked.

On the other hand, Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari advised Mr Sanjrani to voluntarily quit the office. Speaking at a press conference, he said it would be in the interest of democracy and parliament as well as in the interest of the Senate chairman himself.

Sadiq Sanjrani rules out resigning voluntarily from the post, as suggested by Bilawal

“He [Mr Sanjrani] had been elected as a result of the opposition’s consensus that emerged last year. Now the PTI, which was in opposition at that time, is in power, and the PML-N, which was then in power, is in opposition, and the present opposition has a consensus over his removal.

“We have no personal issues with Mr Sanjrani and have respect for him. But as a matter of principle, those who had brought you to office intend to remove you; it is your moral obligation to resign,” the PPP chairman said.

In reply to a question, he ruled out the possibility of bringing a new candidate for the office in consultation with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf. He expressed the hope that the no-trust motion would succeed.

The opposition requires a total of 53 votes to get the no-trust resolution passed, while it has 67 members in the opposition-dominated house. The total strength of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the PPP comes to 52 — the former has 31 senators and the latter 21.

The no-confidence motion was submitted to the Senate secretariat by Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Raja Zafarul Haq, PPP parliamentary leader Sherry Rehman, PML-N leader Javed Abbasi and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam’s (JUI-F) Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri after a meeting of the opposition senators. The meeting was chaired over by Mr Haq.

The resolution, which calls for the removal of the Senate chairman under Rule 12 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate, was drawn up by Sherry Rehman and Javed Abbasi.

None of the two members belonging to the Jamaat-i-Islami, which had quietly skipped the multi-party conference convened by the JUI-F, turned up at the opposition senators’ huddle as well.

It is for the first time in the country’s history that a move is under way to remove a Senate chairman from office.

Sherry Rehman told Dawn that the no-trust motion was signed by 44 members of the opposition and the requisition by 50 members of the house. She said all the 20 members of the PPP minus Senate Deputy Chairman Saleem Mandviwala, who will most probably chair the session to consider the no-trust motion, had signed both documents.

A participant of the meeting told Dawn that two opposition senators — one each from the PPP and the PML-N — expressed reservations that they had not been consulted on the no-trust motion. Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar of the PPP and Dr Musadik Malik of PML-N, however, told them that the decision had been taken by the party leadership and that the senators belonging to the opposition were bound to follow it.

Some members also wanted a decision on as to who would be the opposition’s candidate for the office of Senate chairman.

Sources in the PML-N told Dawn that National Party chief Mir Hasil Biz­enjo, who hails from Baloch­istan, has so far emerged as a consensus candidate of the opposition. His name is likely to be finalised at a meeting of the opposition’s Rahbar committee on July 11.

Rules of procedure

Ms Rehman briefed the opposition senators on the rules pertaining to the removal of Senate chairman.

Rule 12 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate reads: “12- (1) Not less than one-fourth of the total membership of the House may give to the Secretary notice in writing of a motion for leave to move a resolution under Article 61, read with paragraph (c) of clause (7) of Article 53 of the Constitution for the removal from office of the Chairman or the Deputy Chairman and the Secretary shall forthwith circulate the notice to the members.

“(2) After the notice has been received, the Senate shall not be adjourned to a date later than seven clear days excluding closed holidays. (3) The motion for leave to move the resolution shall be entered in the names of the members concerned in the Orders of the Day for the first working day after the expiry of seven days from the date of the receipt of the notice under sub-rule (1). (4) No other item shall be included in the Orders of the Day for the day fixed for a motion for leave to move a resolution under sub-rule (3).

“(5) The Chairman or, as the case may be, the Deputy Chairman shall not preside over a sitting of the Senate in which a resolution for his removal from office is fixed for consideration. (6) The Presiding Officer shall call upon the first available member on the list of movers to move the motion, on his behalf and on behalf of such other members, referred to in sub-rule (3). (7) Immediately after the motion referred to in sub-rule (3) has been moved, the Presiding Officer shall call such of the members as may be in favour of the leave being granted to rise in their seats and, if at least one-fourth of the total membership of the Senate does not so rise, he shall declare that the member has not the leave of the Senate or, if such membership so rises, call upon the member concerned to move the resolution.

“(8) Except with the permission of the Presiding Officer, a member shall not speak on the resolution for more than fifteen minutes: 8 Provided that the mover of the resolution and the Chairman or, as the case may be, the Deputy Chairman, against whom the *[resolution] has been moved, may speak for thirty minutes or such longer time as the Presiding Officer may permit. (9) The Senate shall not be adjourned until the motion for leave is disposed of or, if leave is granted, the resolution has been voted upon.

“(10) Voting on the resolution shall be by secret ballot which shall be held in such manner as the Presiding Officer may direct. (11) If the session during which notice has been given under sub-rule (1) has been convened by the Chairman in pursuance of Article 61 read with clause (3) of Article 54 of the Constitution, the Senate shall not be prorogued until the motion has been disposed of or, if leave is granted, the resolution has been voted upon. (12) The Chairman or, as the case may be, Deputy Chairman shall stand removed from his office on the resolution being passed by a majority of the total membership of the Senate.”

Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2019

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