ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Saturday sought assistance from six political parties including the proponents of the no-trust motion in the National Assembly against Prime Minister Imran Khan and ordered the Islamabad police chief to come up with a comprehensive report regarding Friday’s breaching of Sindh House by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) activists.
In an unusual sitting, a two-judge SC bench comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Muneeb Akhtar issued notices to the ruling PTI, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl), Balochistan National Party (Mengal) and the Awami National Party through their respective secretary generals, though they will be represented by their legal counsel.
The court also issued notices to the respondents for their assistance in ensuring a smooth, lawful and peaceful completion of the process under Article 95 of the constitution.
The federal government through interior and defence secretaries, the prime minister, leader of the opposition in the National Assembly, National Assembly speaker and secretary, Islamabad chief commissioner and deputy commissioner and Inspector General of Police are respondents in the case.
Reference under Article 63-A to be taken up alongside SCBA plea
Earlier, the case was fixed for Monday, March 21. But the court preferred to take up the matter on Saturday — a day when usually benches don’t sit to hear cases, though former CJP Saqib Nisar used to hear cases on weekends too.
CJP Bandial emphasised that political activities should be held within the confines of the law and the Constitution instead of creating ‘anarchic’ situation. Hurling threats to state institutions or damaging public properties was not acceptable, he observed.
Referring to Article 95 of the Constitution, which deals with the no-confidence motion, the SC described it as a non-legal matter that did not relate to the jurisdiction of the apex court.
“With respect to the proceedings under Article 95 being conducted in accordance with the Constitution and the law, except the incident of the Friday last — when a group of charged PTI activists breached the Sindh House twice — presently there is nothing before us that invites our attention either in the public interest or on account of the violation of the constitutional principles,” the CJP remarked while dictating the orders after the hearing.
The Supreme Court had taken up a petition moved by the Supreme Court Bar Association – an apex legal forum – instituted to seek a restraining order against government’s “intentions” of preventing the parliamentarians from taking part in the no-trust motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Jawed Khan, Additional Interior Secretary Mohammad Ayub, IGP Ahsan Younus, Additional Advocate General for Sindh Rafiq Rajorvi were present in the courtroom No 1.
While pointing towards senior counsel for SCBA Mansoor Usman Awan, the bench explained that the SC was hearing the petition of the bar and did not take any suo motu notice on the matter. Mr Awan sought a direction from the apex court to all the state functionaries to act strictly in accordance with the Constitution and the law by restraining them from acting in any manner detrimental to and unwarranted by the Constitution and the law.
Reference under Article 63-A
Also, the attorney general apprised the apex court that the federal government was filing a reference under Article 186 of the Constitution, seeking delineation of the scope and meaning of certain provisions contained in Article 63-A of the Constitution.
The CJP, however, observed that the court would take up matter only when it came before the court, but regretted whatever happened on Friday was “beyond the right of freedom of expression and lawful protest”.
The AGP also tried to explain factors behind the violent protest, recalled how some lawmakers had been “placed” at Sindh House, and alleged that this reflected a return to the old menace of horse trading.
The bench, however, observed that the SCBA had approached the court in aid of public interest to assure that the rights of the parliamentarians were exercised in accordance with the Constitution and the law.
The AGP then assured the court about federal government’s commitment to the process under Article 95 of the Constitution to be followed strictly in accordance with the law. He expressed deep regret on behalf of the federal government about the events that took place on Friday evening and affirmed government’s resolve for the law to take its course with respect to the offences that were committed during the incident.
The court then postponed further proceedings for Monday with the observation that if any reference was filed, it would also be taken along with the SCBA plea.
Published in Dawn, March 20th, 2022