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ISLAMABAD: Opposition parties on Friday rejected Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani’s claim that a no-confidence motion could not be taken up in a requisitioned session of the house and warned that any uncalled-for delay in convening of a session would be a clear violation of the constitution.

Senator Mir Hasil Bizenjo, National Party (NP) president and the opposition’s joint candidate for the Senate chairman’s office, while talking to reporters after a meeting of the parliamentary leaders of opposition parties here, said that a letter of response to Mr Sanjrani’s letter pertaining to the no-confidence resolution against the Senate chairman had been sent to him.

PPP parliamentary leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman and other opposition leaders were present on the occasion.

The opposition’s letter, a copy of which is available with Dawn, points out that, paragraph (c) of Clause 7 of Article 53, Constitution, 1973, read with Article 61, Constitution, 1973, provides that a vote of no-confidence may be brought against the Senate chairman by giving not less than seven days’ notice and if passed by the votes of the majority of the total membership of the House, the office of the Senate chairman shall stand vacated.

Opposition warns any delay in convening of meeting will be unconstitutional

It asserts the constitutional provision does not say that the resolution will be passed in a session summoned by the president or a special session for this purpose.

It stresses that, where such bar was thought necessary by the legislature they provided for it, as in sub-clause (3) of Article 95, Constitution, 1973. The said Article deals with and pertains to a vote of no confidence against the prime minister of Pakistan, in the National Assembly, wherein it is stated that such a resolution will not be moved while the National Assembly is considering demands for grants submitted to it in the annual budget statement.

It also describes the reliance placed on a Feb 10, 2016 ruling of former chairman of Senate Mian Raza Rabbani, stating that any discussion on an agenda item provided for by the requisitioners, discussion will take place under a motion under Rule 218 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate, 2012, as misconceived and misleading. It says the ruling deals with the agenda and orders of the day in which primacy is to be given to the agenda stated in the requisition.

It says that in the ruling, the motions that have been dealt with essentially relate to those parliamentary tools which may be used for generation of debate and or expression of the will of the house and are governed only by “the Rules, 2012”.

“That, a resolution of no confidence, owes its origin to paragraph (c) of clause (7) of Article 53 read with Article 61, Constitution, 1973. Therefore, it is at a pedestal higher than any of those Motions or Resolutions that find mention in ‘the Rules, 2012’.”

It says that the constitutional provision related to no confidence motion stipulates its own mechanism, in as much it states that, “…not less than 7 days’ Notice has been given…”

Sub-rule (9) of Rule 12 of “the Rules, 2012”, is the pith of Rule 12 and highlights the urgency in disposal of the Resolution. The said sub-rule provides that the sitting of the Senate in which leave has been granted and subsequently the resolution has been moved, that sitting will not be adjourned till such time as the resolution has been voted upon.

It says Mr Sanjrani in his letter under reply has admitted that the motion for leave and the resolution has been circulated in compliance with sub-rule (1) of Rule 12 of “the Rules, 2012”, therefore, the notice period provided under the constitution and reiterated in “the Rules, 2012” i.e. of seven days has started to run.

Therefore to give compliance to the constitutional provisions and “the Rules, 2012”, it is mandatory on the Senate secretary to place them on the orders of the day of the first session after the completion of seven days’ notice period, be it a requisitioned session or a session summoned by the president.

It says “it is highly inappropriate and in violation of the rules and the Constitution, 1973, that, you as the Chairman, Senate of Pakistan, should have written the letter under reply, as you cannot sit in your own cause”.

The Opposition’s letter bears signatures of Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Raja Mohammad Zafarul Haq, Mr Bizenjo, Sherry Rehman, Abdul Ghafoor Haidri and Usman Khan Kakar.

Published in Dawn, July 20th, 2019