SC takes up presidential reference for interpretation of Article 63-A

ISLAMABAD (PEN) – Larger bench of Supreme Court of Pakistan is conducting hearing on presidential reference seeking interpretation of Article 63-A.

During the hearing, Supreme Court asked the Attorney General whether provinces should also be made party in the reference. AGP said that provinces has nothing to do with the no-confidence motion as no move has been submitted against any chief minister in the country.

However, the court issued notices to all provinces and political parties and remarked that it wants all parties to stand in defense of the constitution. CJP while directing provinces to submit their written replies said that conducting hearing on presidential reference will be easier after these replies.

On the issue of planned protest and sit-in by JUI-F, Attorney General said that no sit-in can be staged during the voting process because as per law, campaign should end before 48 hours of the voting. He also pleaded the court to give directions for a peaceful protest.

Chief Justice asked all political parties to respect democratic values; however, Justice Mazhar Alam remarked that formation of tiger force armed with sticks by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is regrettable.

During the previous hearing, SC remarked that the court will try to give decision on reference soon and parliamentary proceedings will not be delayed due to presidential reference.

The Attorney General told the court that the assembly proceeding will not be affected by the presidential reference and no one will be stopped from using the right to cast vote. He added that what will happen after the vote, this is the real question in the reference.

Presidential reference

What was asked in presidential reference?

– Whether defected members can be prevented from vote under Article 63(A) for violating party policy?
– Will the vote of defected members be counted?
– Will the defectors be disqualified for life?

MNAs cannot be barred from voting, SCBA submits reply

Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) submitted its reply in Supreme Court SC and stated that members of National Assembly cast their votes on no-confidence motion in their individual capacity and as per Article 95 of the constitution vote is not right of any political party.

The association further said that members cannot be barred from voting under Article 63(A) as public runs government through their elected representatives.

SCBA added every vote that has been casted will have to be counted as per Article 95 and every lawmaker is independent in choosing which side to vote for.

It was further stated that Article 63 does not disqualify members for voting against party directions.

Disqualification for voting against party to weaken democracy: JUI-F

Jamiyat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) submitted its reply to the SC and stated that the Speaker of the house cannot be given the authority to reject the vote of members of the Parliament.

JUI-F also claimed that if the Members of National Assembly (MNA) are disqualified for life on the grounds of voting against their party, it will further weaken the already weak democracy of Pakistan.

The court should refrain from overlapping the supremacy of the Parliament, JUI-F stated in its reply.

PML-N terms presidential reference premature, unnecessary

PML-N said in its response submitted in the SC that Article 63A and Article 95 are clear and every lawmaker has the right to vote.

The party said that the vote of every MNA will be counted and that filing of the presidential reference is a premature and unnecessary move.

The reply further said that that the apex court “has the authority to interpret the Constitution but not to amend it.”