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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has been told that the pending bills in the Parliament cannot be considered a valid ground for requesting the court to abstain from interpreting the provisions of the Constitution or the law.

The speaker National Assembly stated this in a concise statement that the filed through Abdul Latif Yousafzai on Wednesday.

Opposition parties including Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamiat-e-Ulema-Pakistan, Senator Raza Rabbani of Pakistan People’s Party and many lawyers have requested the apex court to return the Reference as the question raised in it is “political”.

President Dr Arif Alvi on December 23, 2020 filed a reference under Article 186 of the Constitution requesting the Court to interpret Article 226 of the Constitution.

The NA Speaker stated that the Parliament being the final lawmaking body is free to deal with pending bills “in accordance with its own procedures and desires, and its decision to do so, on its own pace and timing.”

He said that “the Constitution (twenty-sixth Amendment), Bill, 2020 was introduced in the National Assembly in October, 2020, in order to make amendments in Articles 59, 63, and 226 of Constitution. A bill to amend the provisions of the Elections Act, 2017, was also tabled in the National Assembly. Both the bills are pending before the relevant Standing Committee of the National Assembly.”

He submitted “the fact that the Parliament is engaged in discussing the bills cannot be considered as a valid ground for requesting the Court to abstain from interpreting the provision of the Constitution or the law. It is the prerogative of the Parliament to amend Article 59, 63 and 226 of Constitution as well as the provisions of the Election Act, 2017. The pendency of the Reference or any other Reference or any other proceedings in the Court on its own does not bar or stop the Parliament from amending any provision of the Constitution or any other law. Similarly, it is the prerogative of the Supreme Court to interpret the provision of the Constitution.

“The factum of pendency of any bill before the National Assembly may not prejudice the jurisdiction of the apex court to interpret the provisions of the Constitution particularly Article 226,” he stated adding that the elections of the two Houses of Parliament to be conducted in a transparent, just, honest and fair manner.

He said: “Any semblance of horse trading, vote buying or vote selling involving members of the august Houses of Parliament or provincial assemblies is highly damaging for the integrity and respect not only for the Parliament and provincial assemblies but also for the entire democratic process in the country.

“In the past, there were serious allegations and numerous instances of vote buying with reference to the Senate elections. Such practices not only damage the purity of the electoral process but raise serious question on the integrity and legitimacy of the democratic process and rule of law.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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