The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf on Saturday sent to the Supreme Court (SC) a review petition challenging its recent decision to set aside the National Assembly (NA) Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri's ruling to dismiss the no-trust resolution against Prime Minister Imran Khan.
On Thursday night, the apex court — in a historic ruling — had set aside the deputy speaker's ruling in a unanimous 5-0 verdict and had also restored the NA, which had been dissolved by the president on the PM's advice immediately after Suri's ruling.
The apex court had also restored the prime minister and his cabinet in their position and directed the speaker to reconvene a session of the NA on Saturday (today) no later than 10:30am, ordering that the session could not be prorogued without the conclusion of the no-trust motion against the premier.
The SC had also said that any order by the prime minister, president and speaker shall be subject to the court till voting on the no-trust resolution.
The petition, prepared by Babar Awan and Advocate Mohammad Azhar Siddique, has named the PPP, PML-N, Supreme Court Bar Association, Sindh High Court Bar Association and the Sindh Bar Council as respondents.
Talking to Dawn.com, Siddique said that while the petition was sent to the apex court and remains there, it could not be processed as offices had closed early owing to Ramazan timings. He said it would be processed on the next working day.
The petition, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, requested the SC to "kindly review, recall and set aside the impugned order dated April 7 ... which is based on errors floating on the surface," as well as suspend the operation of the impugned order.
It argued that the apex court's order in the absence of detailed reasons was not a judicial determination according to Article 184(3) of the Constitution which states that an issue needs to be of public importance if the court has to have jurisdiction on it.
Referring to the court's detailed orders of how today's NA proceedings should be conducted, the petition said the apex court's bench could not forcefully "direct discharge of constitutional obligations, by office holders of constitutional posts under the Constitution".
It said that giving a timetable for how the NA session should proceed and dictating the speaker to act in a particular manner amounted to interfering in the affairs of the lower house and violating the Constitution.
The petition also argued that the apex court had "erred" by not announcing any verdict in the presidential reference seeking the court's opinion on Article 63-A of the Constitution. It added that in the absence of any determination, the court had "prejudiced" the reference's proceedings and "blemished the entire proceedings" of today's NA session.
Furthermore, the petition said that the bench had "erred" to appreciate the Constitution's provisions that barred the apex court from interfering in the proceedings of parliament or holding officials such as the president, prime minister, speaker and deputy speaker answerable to the court, including in the exercise of their discretionary powers.
"The apex court has erred to appreciate that within the proceedings of the house, the Parliament is sovereign, independent and not amenable to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court or any other court," the petition stated.
It also defended the deputy speaker's action, saying that his ruling was meant to enforce Article 5 of the Constitution and thus the court's verdict setting it aside needed to be reviewed.
Regarding the opposition's no-confidence motion, it argued that it had "lapsed due to afflux of time" and thus any direction on it is "a direct violation of the stated mandate of the Constitution."
It also pointed out that the procedure for a no-trust vote was elaborately provided in the Constitution therefore "the honourable apex court is not entitled to micro-manage the affairs of the Parliament."
The no-trust motion saga
The joint opposition — primarily the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and the PPP — had submitted the no-confidence motion against the premier with the NA Secretariat on March 8.
In the days to follow, the country's political landscape was abuzz with activity as parties and individuals changed alliances and the PTI and opposition were seen trading barbs and allegations alongside intensifying efforts to ensure their success in the no-confidence contest.
Eventually, major allies of the ruling PTI — Balochistan Awami Party and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan — deserted the government and joined the opposition ranks which led to PM Imran losing his majority in the lower house of parliament.
In addition, over a dozen PTI dissident MNAs came into the open with their criticism of the government's policies, indicating that they might support the opposition’s no-trust motion even at the cost of being disqualified as NA members.
For its part, the PTI managed to secure the support of another one of its key allies, the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), as Usman Buzdar stepped down as the Punjab chief minister in favour of the PML-Q's Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, who the ruling party announced as its candidate for the province's new chief executive.
However, one of the many twists in the saga emerged when PM Imran claimed to have evidence of a "foreign conspiracy" to oust his government. At the PTI's rally on March 27, the premier had pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket and waved it at the crowd, claiming it was evidence of an "international conspiracy" being hatched to topple his government.
The PTI accused the opposition of being part of the foreign plot and tried to turn the tide in its favour by disclosing some of the details in the "threat letter" to journalists and lawmakers.
Separately, after a few delays, the National Assembly finally convened on April 3 to vote on the no-trust motion against the premier. In a "surprise" move, the opposition submitted a similar motion against the speaker which led to the deputy speaker chairing the session.
However, the PTI would prove to be five steps ahead of the opposition as the deputy speaker dismissed the motion, saying it was part of a foreign conspiracy to oust PM Imran, after Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry spoke on a point of order, citing Article 5 of the Constitution, which mandates loyalty to the state for every citizen.
Within minutes of the pandemonium that broke out, PM Imran appeared on television to announce that he had advised the president to dissolve the lower house of parliament and called on the people to prepare for fresh elections.
The government's move also led to the Supreme Court taking suo motu notice of the deputy speaker's ruling with Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial stating that all orders and actions initiated by the prime minister and president regarding the dissolution of the National Assembly would be subject to the court's order. Meanwhile, opposition parties also filed pleas questioning the legality of the deputy speaker's ruling.
What followed were five days of marathon hearings where the court heard arguments from the government and the opposition. At the same time, the PTI began its preparations for the next elections, insisting on the existence of a foreign conspiracy behind the no-confidence motion.
The SC then announced its verdict on Thursday that was hailed by the opposition, journalists and civil society members.