ISLAMABAD: Former Pun­­jab chief minister Hamza Shehbaz Sharif on Friday approached the Sup­reme Court with a plea to revisit and recall its July 26 order which declared Chau­dhry Parvez Elahi as duly elected chief minister of the province for admittedly sec­uring 186 votes against 179 in the July 22 run-off poll.

Filed through senior counsel Mansoor Usman Awan, the review petition also requested for constitution of a full court to decide the present plea involving interpretation and application of Article 63A of the Constitution that deals with defection clause along with other connected matters.

The review petition argued that the apex court in its July 26 order did not appreciate that 11 SC jud­g­­es, and not eight judges, en­­unciated in the 2015 District Bar Association, Rawal­pin­­di, verdict that non-compliance with directives of the party head with respect to casting votes under Article 63A(1)(b)(i-iii) only entailed de-seating of the parliamentarian.

The apex court had in its July 26 order reasoned that out of 17 judges, who heard the 2015 case to determine the vires of the 18th Consti­tution Amendment, specifically Article 63A, only eight held that the decision as to how to vote had been conferred upon the party head.

The review petition explained that the 11 judges had in the 2015 judgement indicated that the direction being referred to in Article 63A(1)(b) was to be issued by the party head, at the behest of or on behalf of the political party to the parliamentary party.

The question was front and centre in the plurality opinion authored by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed in the 2015 verdict, the review petition contended, adding that in the plurality opinion, the arguments of the counsel recorded were that “by virtue of Article 63A, the right of the parliamentarians to vote on the constitutional amendment has been made subservient to the command of the party head who may not even be the member of parliament”.

Thus the plurality, comprising eight judges of the Supreme Court, concluded that in the 18th Amendment case that Article 63A had only been amended to the extent that the decision of the party as how to vote had been conferred upon the party head and the matters in which such instructions would apply included an amendment to the Consti­tution, in addition to the money bill and vote of confidence or no confidence, the review petition argued.

The petition said eight judges had affixed their signatures endorsing that decision, and this understanding was also shared by three other judges, taking the tally to 11 judges in the 2015 judgement.

Published in Dawn, August 13th, 2022

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