National Assembly (NA) Speaker Asad Qaiser has summoned the session of the lower house to deliberate on the opposition's no-confidence resolution against Prime Minister Imran Khan on March 25 (Friday) at 11am.
The session, which will be the 41st of the current National Assembly, was summoned after the joint opposition made the requisition for it under Article 54 of the Constitution along with the submission of the no-confidence motion against the prime minister on March 8.
According to Article 54, once a session of the National Assembly has been requisitioned with signatures of at least 25 per cent of the members on it, the speaker has a maximum of 14 days to summon a session. Therefore, the speaker had to call the lower house in session by March 22.
Explainer: How does a no-confidence motion work?
However, according to a notification issued from the NA Secretariat today, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, a motion was adopted by the National Assembly on January 21 to allow the exclusive use of its chamber for the 48th session of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers on March 22 and 23.
It further said that due to its own chamber's unavailability, the NA Secretariat had asked the Senate Secretariat to provide its chamber for the lower house's session but it was also unavailable due to renovation work.
The notification further said that the chairman CDA and Deputy Commissioner Islamabad were also approached for the provision of a suitable place outside the Parliament Building but "they have informed in writing that no suitable place is available at present in Islamabad."
"In view of the aforementioned facts and circumstances, it is evident that no suitable place would be available for holding the session of the National Assembly till 24th March," the notification issued in Qaiser's name stated.
"Therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred upon me under clause (3) of Article 54 of the Constitution ... I herby summon the session of the National Assembly on the first available date i.e. 25th March."
After the NA is in session, the rules of procedure dictate that the secretary will circulate a notice for a no-confidence resolution, which will be moved on the next working day.
From the day the resolution is moved, it "shall not be voted upon before the expiry of three days, or later than seven days," according to the rules.
Arbitrary delay could invoke Article 6: Sherry Rehman
PPP Senator Sherry Rehman condemned the delay and said the NA speaker could not arbitrarily delay the requisitioned session.
"If he violates Article 54, which read with Art 95 of the Constitution of Pakistan, enjoins on him the duty of calling such a session within the outer limit of 14 days, he will invoke Article 6 for violation," she said.
Article 6 of the Constitution deals with high treason and says: “Any person who abrogates or subverts or suspends or hold in abeyance, or attempts or conspires to abrogate or subvert or suspend or hold in abeyance the Constitution by use of force or show force or by any other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason."