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Speaker NA directs PM to file response over conviction

May 22, 2012


Speaker National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Tuesday, on directives of Speaker National Assembly Fehmida Mirza, filed his written response to her over the Supreme Court’s contempt of court verdict against him, DawnNews reported.

According to sources, Attorney General Irfan Qadir, by giving his legal and constitutional advice to the NA speaker, has objected to PM Gilani’s potential disqualification.

He also urged the speaker to exercise her right in favour of the prime minister.

Qadir had represented the state as a prosecutor in the contempt of court case against the prime minister and surprised everyone by declaring the evidences insufficient and said there were legal complications to convict the premier.

Earlier today, the NA speaker had directed the PM to file a response regarding his conviction by the Supreme Court in the contempt of court case.

The NA speaker is to announce her decision on the prime minister’s disqualification in about three days time.

According to Article 63(2) of the Constitution, the speaker is duly bound to decide on the prime minister’s disqualification within a period of 30 days. If she fails to do so, the reference would automatically be forwarded to the Election Commission.

The article reads: “If any question arises whether a member of Majlis-e-Shoora (parliament) has become disqualified from being a member, the speaker or, as the case may be, the chairman shall, unless he decides that no such question has arisen, refer the question to the Election Commission within 30 days and should he fail to do so within the aforesaid period it shall be deemed to have been referred to the Election Commission.”

A lawyer has already filed a reference with the NA Speaker requesting her to start disqualification proceedings against Prime Minister Gilani.

“Mr Gilani was convicted by the Supreme Court on April 26 and I filed the reference next day on April 27 under article 63-2 of the Constitution,” Maulvi Iqbal Haider said, adding: “In my reference I have requested the speaker that after conviction by the apex court the prime minister has no authority to exercise his powers by any means.”

“After receiving such a reference, there is a deadline of 30 days,” a National Assembly staff member had told Dawn.

Sources have told DawnNews that the prime minister would be responding to the speaker with an official written reply by Wednesday.

Gilani’s fate as prime minister lies in Dr Fehmida Mirza’s hands as she has about three days to decide on his disqualification. The government also has to file its appeal against the Supreme Court’s verdict before the deadline expires.

Speaker’s options

Legal experts say the speaker can opt for one of three possible choices.

One, she can keep silent and let the reference pass on to the Election Commission of Pakistan for its ruling.

Two, the speaker can herself send the case to the Election Commission, which then has to take a decision in 90 days. Article 63(3) says: “The Election Commission shall decide the question within 90 days from its receipt or deemed to have been received….”

The third option, however, allows the speaker to reject the reference arguing that in her opinion the prime minister does not merit disqualification.

On the other hand, she can also disqualify him if she so believes. In both cases, her ruling would be taken as final.

Legal experts say that Article 63(2) gives this power to the speaker.