LAHORE: National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf on Tuesday told the Lahore High Court that the appointment of Leader of the Opposition Raja Riaz was legal and the proceedings, being internal affairs of the parliament, enjoyed immunity aga­inst judicial challenge.

The reply was filed through the National Assembly secretary to a petition challenging the appointment of Raja Riaz, a dissident MNA of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, as the opposition leader.

The speaker said Arti­cle 69 of the Constitution recognises smooth functioning of the parliament without interference of courts. He said the article contains a clear constitutional prohibition to inquire into the proceedings of the parliament.

The reply said no statutory illegality was committed during the appointment process and no procedural error had been pointed out in the petition.

“In the absence of any such assertion, the invocation of the constitutional jurisdiction is legally not permissible,” it adds.

The speaker also questioned the maintainability of the petition on the ground of territorial jurisdiction of the LHC, saying the National Assembly is situated in Islamabad.

He said the petition before the court is baseless, frivolous and without any legal justification.

He asked the court to dismiss the petition for being not maintainable in terms of articles 66 and 69 of the Constitution.

Justice Raza Qureshi adjourned further hearing of the petition till Feb 28 and directed the federal government to submit its reply.

Petitioner Munir Ahmad, a lawyer, through Advocate Azhar Siddique argued that Raja Riaz had been unlawfully appoin­t­­ed as the opposition leader in the National Assembly.

He said the respondent MNA belonged to the opposition but had been supporting the government in its decisions.

He asked the court to set aside the notification about the appointment of MNA Riaz as the opposition leader for being in violation of the Constitution.

Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2023

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