Headed by Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, a five-judge bench on Monday rejected the review petition jointly moved by former then-National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser and deputy speaker Qasim Khan Suri.
While arguing on behalf of the petitioners, senior counsel Naeem Bukhari said the review petition stated the Supreme Court judgement did not adequately deal with the bar of jurisdiction contained in Article 69(2) of the Constitution.
The clause stated that courts could not inquire into the parliament’s proceedings and “no officer or member” of parliament “shall be subject to the jurisdiction of any court” for exercising their powers.
Five-judge bench rejects review plea moved by ex-speaker, deputy speaker
The bench, however, dismissed the plea with an observation that the matter pertained to the deputy speaker’s ruling and not their conduct in the Lower House.
During the hearing, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel remarked that the court could intervene in cases where constitutional violation was committed.
Mr Bukhari argued that the apex court overlooked the point of order raised by the then law minister during the National Assembly session on April 3, 2022, which was related to the house’s business.
Likewise, rules 37(4) and 37(8) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly, 2007, read with Article 69(2) of the Constitution, state that the decision given on a point of order is final, thus rendering it immune from judicial scrutiny.
The speaker or the deputy speaker is not liable for the consequences of their decision on a point of order, nor can they be held accountable for them in view of Article 69(2).
The review petition was filed after the Supreme Court had set aside the dissolution of the National Assembly by President Dr Arif Alvi and had directed then prime minister Imran Khan to face the no-trust motion.
The petition had contended that the fundamental right of freedom of association contained in Article 17(2) cannot be abridged by any law, but this does not apply to the Constitution itself, which even enables the suspension of the fundamental rights by Article 233.
It added that the court’s April 8, 2022 judgement considered Article 17(2) overrides Article 69, which was “difficult to comprehend”.
The parliamentary form of government was a salient feature of the Constitution, but it also stated that the decision/ruling of the speaker or deputy speaker on a point of order was final.
The detailed judgement had “imported” Articles 4 and 25 into the internal functioning of the National Assembly, thus invalidating the Rules of Procedure by giving precedence to Article 95 over Article 69 and concluding that the absence of discussion on the point of order and the decision, repudiated the rule of law.
The point of order in question was raised by the information minister Fawad Chaudhry, who said that loyalty to the state was the basic duty of every citizen under Article 5(1).
While claiming that a foreign conspiracy was behind the no-confidence motion, he questioned how this could be allowed and called on the deputy speaker to decide the motion’s constitutionality.
Taking note of the minister’s contention, Mr Suri dismissed the resolution, ruling that it was “contradictory” to the law, the Constitution and the rules.
Published in Dawn, January 30th, 2024