ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has upheld its April 4, 2022 judgement declaring unconstitutional the ruling of the then-deputy speaker on the no-confidence motion against ex-prime minister Imran Khan.

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

Opinion

Editorial

Silencing the public
Updated 21 Feb, 2024

Silencing the public

Acting as if it is unaccountable, it is now curtailing citizens’ digital rights without even bothering to come up with a justification.
Fitch’s concern
Updated 21 Feb, 2024

Fitch’s concern

It warns that “near-term political uncertainty may complicate the country’s efforts to secure a financing agreement with the IMF to succeed the Stand-by Arrangement”.
Zoo zealotry
Updated 21 Feb, 2024

Zoo zealotry

IN a bizarre twist of faith and fur, the Indian right-wing Hindu nationalist group, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, has...
Open the books
Updated 20 Feb, 2024

Open the books

Irregularities have been so widespread that even otherwise impartial observers are joining the chorus of voices demanding a recount.
BRICS candidacy
Updated 20 Feb, 2024

BRICS candidacy

For Pakistan to successfully join BRICS or compete in other arenas internationally, the political instability at home needs to be addressed.
Pneumonia menace
20 Feb, 2024

Pneumonia menace

PANIC is on the rise as the alarming surge in pneumonia cases has created an explosion of headlines — sans...