The National Assembly on Thursday passed a resolution rejecting the decision of a three-member bench of the Supreme Court in the Punjab elections delay case.
On April 4, the apex court quashed the ECP’s decision to delay the elections in the province from April 30 to October 8, ruling the move was “unconstitutional, without lawful authority or jurisdiction, void ab-initio, [and] of no legal effect”.
Yesterday, the Prime Minister described the decision, in a cabinet meeting, as a “mockery of the Constitution and law” and said it could not be implemented.
That viewpoint reverberated in the National Assembly today, which not only passed a resolution against the Supreme Court’s April 4 ruling, but also urged the prime minister not to abide by it.
The resolution was moved by Balochistan Awami Party legislator Khalid Magsi, who read it out on the floor of the house.
“This house rejects the minority decision of the three-member bench and binds the prime minister and the cabinet not to implement the unconstitutional and unlawful decision,” Magsi said as he read out the resolution.
The resolution referred to an earlier one passed in the NA on March 28. It stated stated that the previous resolution had demanded the implementation of the “majority decision taken by four SC judges” and that the top court should refrain from meddling in the country’s political and administrative affairs.
“But it was not accepted,” the resolution said, lamenting that the “stance of no political party barring one was heard”. “Instead, parliament’s clear resolution and the majority decision of the four judges were completely ignored and the minority opinion of the three-member bench was imposed.”
The resolution said this was in violation of the apex court’s traditions, precedents and procedures.
“Parliament rejects the minority decision of the three-member bench and in accordance with the Constitution and law, declares that the decision of the majority bench is in force”.
The resolution said the house also endorsed the verdict issued by the Justice Qazi Faez Isa-led bench regarding the postponement of cases filed under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution until amendments were made to Supreme Court Rules 1980 regarding the CJP’s discretionary powers to form benches.
Referring to the SC registrar’s circular disregarding the order, the resolution said that it viewed the move “to stop the implementation of this decision through an executive circular” with deep concern.
Commenting on the larger SC bench’s decision to override Justice Isa’s order, the resolution said the House had reservations over the fixing of this matter before a “controversial bench” for hearing in haste and “the issuance of an immediate ruling in it within a few minutes”.
The resolution said such an act was also against the traditions and precedents of the SC and thus, “unacceptable”.
The prime minister briefly attended the proceedings and left shortly after the resolution was passed.
Before the resolution was brought, lawmakers took turns criticising the Supreme Court and PTI Chairman Imran Khan.
PPP MNA and Federal Minister for Benazir Income Support Programme, Shazia Marri, said the House honours the courts but they should also understand the “trichotomy of power, they should understand that every institution needs to be paid a certain amount of respect “.
She said the Constitution defines the role of all the institutions that function in the country, and it (the Constitution) has to be upheld — “not the ego of one person”.
“There has to be a separation between the executive and the judiciary,” she added. “We also have to accept that the executive should not interfere with the judiciary, which I accept that I should not interfere in the matters concerning lordships, the same way lordship should not interfere with executive matters,” she added.
She also made a film reference, describing Imran as the “Manchurian candidate” who said that “it is better to blow Pakistan up with an atom bomb rather than letting these people come back in power”.
She also had choice words for Imran Khan, calling him a “narcissist”.
Resolution against Israeli raid on Al Aqsa
Earlier the house passed a resolution strongly condemning the recent Israeli attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Over 350 people were arrested on Wednesday as Israeli police attacked dozens of worshippers in the mosque’s compound before dawn in what Israeli police said was a response to rioting.
The incident sparked protests across the occupied West Bank and the Israeli military claimed nine rockets were fired from Gaza toward Israel after sirens blared in southern towns.
Today’s resolution was moved by the PPP leader Naz Baloch, who said the house strongly condemned the “brutal attack by occupied Israeli at Al-Aqsa mosque during the holy month of Ramazan”.
“Attacking innocent worshippers including women and children is a gross violation of human rights,” the resolution said. It said the house “stands in solidarity with the people of Palestine”.
The house demanded the international community, including human rights organisations, to break the silence on the violence. “The violence led by the Israeli forces deeply hurt the sentiments of Muslims around the world,” it added.
PM Shehbaz says govt to accept decision of full bench
Separately, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that the government would accept the decision of the full bench in the elections delay case.
Addressing the inauguration ceremony of a lawyers’ complex in Islamabad, he said that the top court and judges should be respected but the “rules they make for others should apply to them as well”.
PM Shehbaz recalled that initially, a nine-member bench was hearing the case, but it was eventually diminished to a three-member bench after judges recused themselves. He further noted that a debate was underway regarding the “4-3 and 3-2” verdicts.
“Had the demand for a full court to hear the case been accepted, who would have disputed the [court’s] decision?” he asked.
The prime minister also referred to the dismissal of the verdict issued by the Justice Isa-led bench regarding the postponement of cases filed under Article 184 (3).
He said he was sharing these details as a “layman” so as to make his audience of lawyers understand that no political party could run away from elections. “The day a [political party] runs from elections, its politics will be buried,” he said.
The premier also lamented that the repeated pleas of political parties to be made a party in the elections case were disregarded.
He called for all stakeholders to introspect and decide whether “we have to protect Pakistan and coming generations’ future or engage in our personal fights and take Pakistan to the point of no return”.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan, on the other hand, said that it was now clear what the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government desired: any which way to get out of elections.
“They brought in an unconstitutional bill on SC and a NA resolution against [the] judiciary,” he said.
Imran also said that the government had convened a meeting of the National Security Committee for tomorrow to “try and use security as [a] pretext for postponement of elections”.
“This will pit [the] armed forces directly against not just judiciary but also the nation,” he said.
Additional reporting by Irfan Sadozai