ISLAMABAD: Aisha Nawaz, a PTI dissenter who was elected member of the Punjab Assembly on women’s seats, moved a petition before the Supreme Court on Tuesday seeking review of its May 17 judgement that a vote should not be counted if a legislator casts it in violation of the party line.

Moved through Malik Javed Iqbal, the petition pleaded before the apex court to recall its May 17 judgement in the interest of justice.

By a majority of three to two, the Supreme Court had held on May 17 that Article 63A of the Constitution, which deals with defection, protects the fundamental rights of a parliamentary party rather than its members. Therefore, a vote cast contrary to the party line should not be counted, the judgement said.

“Political parties are an integral aspect of the bedrock on which our democracy rests and their destabilisation tends to shake the bedrock, which can potentially put democracy itself in peril,” the Supreme Court judgement had observed.

The apex court had, however, preferred not to answer a question regarding perpetual disqualification, under Article 63A of the Constitution, of a member who defects.

The petition argued that the presidential review under whose purview the May 17 judgement fell should have been decided within the parameters of Article 186 of the Constitution and no new clause, amendment or alteration should have been made in the Constitution.

But the apex court, while deciding the presidential reference, made an escape since Article 63A was a complete code in itself as it spells out a procedure regarding defection of a member of parliament and its consequences. It also provided a right of appeal to the aggrieved party.

But, the petitioner contended, the Supreme Court judgement had deprived her of this right.

The court is competent to review any piece of legislation done by parliament, but it does not have the power to amend or alter a constitutional provision, Aisha Nawaz argued.

The review petition argued that the right to a fair trial and due process of law enshrined as a fundamental right under Article 10-A has not been followed in the judgement.

Likewise, Aisha Nawaz added, the May 17 judgement was passed under an impression that the lawmaker had not acted upon the directives of the political party concerned, without awarding them any chance of being heard.

Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2022

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