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PML-N decides to challenge speaker’s ruling

May 27, 2012


Speaker National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza. – File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has decided to challenge in the Supreme Court National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza’s ruling to save Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani from disqualification.

PML-N MNA from Sialkot Khwaja Mohammad Asif will file the petition under Article 184(3) of the Constitution on Monday.

“Yes, I have prepared the petition and it will be filed in the morning,” Khwaja Asif said when contacted on Sunday. “Of course, I am doing it with the permission of my party” was his reply when asked if he was going to the court in his personal capacity or on behalf of the party.

PML-N spokesman Senator Pervez Rashid later told Dawn that Khwaja Asif was filing the petition in the Supreme Court in line with the party decision.

The move came a day after the PPP announced that it was not filing an appeal before the apex court against the prime minister’s conviction and 37-second sentence by a seven-judge bench on contempt charges.

Speaking at a public meeting in Rawalpindi on Sunday PTI chief Imran Khan also announced that he would challenge the speaker’s ruling in the apex court.

In the petition, a copy of which is available with Dawn, Khwaja Asif has made the speaker, the prime minister and the federation through the law secretary as respondents. Since the PML-N does not recognise Mr Gilani as legitimate prime minister after his conviction last month by a seven-judge bench on contempt charges, Mr Asif has described him in the petition as an MNA and not as the prime minister.

The PML-N MNA has requested the apex court to declare the speaker’s ruling “arbitrary, capricious and illegal” and ‘restrain’ Mr Gilani “from continuing to act as a member of the National Assembly and from exercising the powers of the prime minister, pending final adjudication of this petition”.

He has also requested the court to “direct the Election Commission of Pakistan to expeditiously decide” the question of Mr Gilani’s disqualification “as required under Article 63(3)”.

The Supreme Court through a short order on April 26 had sentenced the prime minister till the rising of the court for “ridiculing” it by not writing a letter to Swiss authorities for re-opening a money-laundering case against PPP co-chairman and President Asif Ali Zardari.

The PPP kept on saying that the prime minister had the right to appeal against his conviction and that the constitutional powers to disqualify Mr Gilani rested with the speaker who was bound to give her ruling within 30 days after the court’s verdict.

On Thursday, the speaker through her ruling refused to send a disqualification reference against Mr Gilani to the Election Commission, stating that the charges against the prime minister “do not give grounds for his disqualification” as the “Supreme Court has not framed any charge claiming the prorogation of any opinion, acting in any manner against the independence of the judiciary or ridiculing the judiciary as stipulated under Article 63 (1)(g)”.

Raising “points of law”, the PML-N MNA through his petition has termed the speaker’s ruling “tantamount to subverting the principles of democracy, equality and independence of judiciary in so far as it seeks to sit in judgment upon the verdict of the Supreme Court of Pakistan”.

The petitioner is of the view that the speaker’s ruling “could defeat and render naught the unequivocal and unanimous judgment of a seven-member bench of the Supreme Court”.

“The ruling of the speaker of the National Assembly under Article 63(2) of the Constitution is partisan, arbitrary and in contumacious disregard of the unequivocal findings of the hon’ble Supreme Court of Pakistan in Criminal Original No.06 of 2012 and is, therefore, liable to be set aside with the direction to the Election Commission to decide the question of the disqualification of the respondent No.2 as required under Article 63(3),” says the petition.

It says: “The ruling of the speaker of the National Assembly under Article 63(2) of the Constitution is in flagrant disregard to the right of all individuals to be dealt with in accordance with the law as mandated under Article 4 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan” and “violates the basic duty of every citizen to obey the Constitution and the law as enshrined under Article 5 of the Constitution and such ruling protects and encourages those who seek to defy and defeat the law.”