The coalition government has decided to file a petition in the Supreme Court (SC) for the formation of a full court bench to hear cases related to the interpretation of Article 63-A of the Constitution, related to the status of defecting lawmakers, according to a statement issued by Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb on Sunday.

The issue was thrust into the limelight on Friday when Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Mohammad Mazari decided not to count PML-Q's votes in the Punjab chief minister’s election, deeming them to be against party head Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain's directions and thus handing Hamza Shehbaz the victory over PML-Q leader Chaudhry Parvez Elahi.

Mazari's ruling was challenged by Elahi in a petition filed and in Saturday's hearing at the SC's Lahore registry, the apex court allowed Hamza to stay as a “trustee” Punjab chief minister till Monday.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial had also remarked that prima facie, the deputy speaker’s ruling was against the apex court’s verdict in the Article 63-A reference.

As the closely watched Saturday proceedings came to an end, the PML-N began publicly pushing for a full court bench and questioned the “one-sidedness” of the decision from a “particular bench” of the apex court.

The government alliance has now decided to formally move the SC in this regard, the information minister said today.

The leaders of the government alliance will also address a press conference at 10:30am on Monday.

The leaders will then go to the apex court with their lawyers to request the formation of a full court bench that jointly hears cases related to the election of Punjab's chief minister, the Supreme Court Bar Association's (SCBA) review petition of the SC's opinion on Article 63-A and other related petitions.

The statement said the PPP, PML-N and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl will go to the SC, while the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, Balochistan National Party, Balochistan Awami Party and other allied parties will be among the petitioners as well.

"The lawyers of all the parties will argue in the Supreme Court on Article 63-A of the Constitution," the statement said.

A day ago, the ruling alliance issued a declaration, demanding that the chief justice of Pakistan constitute a full court to hear the petition against the Punjab chief minister’s election, calling it “an important national, political and constitutional matter”.

The declaration stated that the Constitution had drawn a clear line of authority between the legislature, judiciary, and the administration, which an “arrogant, anti-constitution and fascist” person was trying to erase.

The component parties of the ruling coalition said in the declaration that they would not compromise on the Constitution, democracy, and the right of the people to rule.

On May 17, the SC had decided on a presidential reference seeking interpretation of Article 63-A that the votes of defecting lawmakers will not be counted.

Subsequently, on June 23, the SCBA filed a petition in the apex court on for a review of its decision.

Full court bench is 'requirement of justice': law minister

Meanwhile, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar addressed a press conference in Lahore with Punjab government spokesperson Attaullah Tarar, calling for the formation of a full court bench to hear cases related to Article 63-A's interpretation.

He said cases such as the SCBA's review petition or Friday's Punjab CM election or appeals of de-seated dissident PTI MPAs were all linked together. "The most foundational case is Article 63-A's interpretation with which all these matters are solved," he added.

Referring to Hamza, the law minister said that if a representative of the people was to be sent home through a legal decision then it was a requirement of justice, transparency and independence for a full court bench to hear the matter.

He also rejected allegations of the PML-N being behind a recent social media trend that criticised apex court judges and said his party highly respected state institutions.

CJP has to decide about full court bench: Fawad

Meanwhile, senior PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said it was a prerogative of the chief justice to form a full court bench.

"But, the CJP has already said there is no room for legal interpretation in this matter anymore," he said while talking to reporters in Lahore.

He demanded that disqualification proceedings must be initiated against government leaders who flouted the top court's orders in the Punjab chief minister's election.

"Punjab Assembly deputy speaker did not show up in the Supreme Court despite a summon, which shows his disregard for the court."

He said the PTI would have to think of "other ways" if the PML-N attempted to disrupt court proceedings on Monday.

SCBA president urges SC to take up his review plea

Meanwhile, Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan (SCBA) President Ahsan Bhoon urged the apex court to take up his review petition against its judgement in a presidential reference on Article 63-A.

"This is the right time for the apex court to take up the pending petition of the SCBA and decide the matter for once and all, so that no one dares to point finger at the top court," Bhoon said in a statement.

He maintained that the SCBA was of the opinion that the interpretation of Article 63-A pertaining to the treatment of dissidents "is against the norms of natural justice, hence it requires a thorough and detailed debate".

He also called upon all political parties to refrain from making orders of the Supreme Court controversial, saying "let the court interpret constitutional matters".

Opinion

Budgeting without people

Budgeting without people

Even though the economy is a critical issue, discussions about it involve a select few who are not really interested in communicating with the people.

Editorial

Iranian tragedy
Updated 21 May, 2024

Iranian tragedy

Due to Iran’s regional and geopolitical influence, the world will be watching the power transition carefully.
Circular debt woes
21 May, 2024

Circular debt woes

THE alleged corruption and ineptitude of the country’s power bureaucracy is proving very costly. New official data...
Reproductive health
21 May, 2024

Reproductive health

IT is naïve to imagine that reproductive healthcare counts in Pakistan, where women from low-income groups and ...
Wheat price crash
Updated 20 May, 2024

Wheat price crash

What the government has done to Punjab’s smallholder wheat growers by staying out of the market amid crashing prices is deplorable.
Afghan corruption
20 May, 2024

Afghan corruption

AMONGST the reasons that the Afghan Taliban marched into Kabul in August 2021 without any resistance to speak of ...
Volleyball triumph
20 May, 2024

Volleyball triumph

IN the last week, while Pakistan’s cricket team savoured a come-from-behind T20 series victory against Ireland,...