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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC), Thursday, rejected Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Syed Khursheed Shah's petition for directions to the National Assembly speaker to issue his production orders. A single bench of Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard the petition filed by Shah, through his counsel Farooq H Naek, and dismissed the same after hearing the arguments.

Justice Minallah noted in his verdict that this Court is, therefore, bereft of jurisdiction to issue a direction or writ to the worthy speaker in the context of powers conferred under Rule 108 of the Rules of 2007.

"However, even if this Court had the jurisdiction, it would have shown restraint because issuing a direction to the worthy Speaker would have undermined the sanctity and supremacy of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)," maintained the IHC chief justice.

He added that this Court has been informed that the worthy speaker has not even exercised his powers under Rule 108 of the Rules of 2007 nor refused to do so.

"This Court is confident that the worthy speaker would consider the matter and exercise his powers under Rule 108 of the Rules of 2007 in the best interest of the constituents of NA-206, Sukkur-I so that they are not deprived of their right to be represented during the budget session," the verdict added.

Justice Minallah said, "This Court's jurisdiction is barred under Article 69 of the Constitution to give a direction to the worthy Speaker. The petition is, therefore, disposed of with the expectation and confidence that the worthy Speaker will decide the matter in the best interest of the constituents of NA206, Sukkur-I. The Petitioner or any other competent person would be at liberty to approach the worthy Speaker."

In his petition, Shah had stated that he was a returned candidate from the constituency NA-206, Sukkur-I.

He was notified as a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan.

He was arrested on 18-09-2019 by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and has remained incarcerated since then.

The petitioner had stated that he has not been convicted by a competent court and, therefore, he is not disqualified to represent the constituents of NA-206, Sukkur-I.

He invoked the constitutional jurisdiction of this court seeking a direction to the speaker of the National Assembly of Pakistan to issue his production orders.

His counsel, Naek had argued that the constituents of NA-206, Sukkur-I would suffer if the constituency remained unrepresented in the National Assembly of Pakistan during the crucial budget session.

He had also argued that refusal on part of the worthy speaker to exercise powers conferred under Rule 108 of the Rules of 2007 would deprive the constituents of NA-206, Sukkur-I of meaningful participation, while the proposed budget is being debated.

In his judgment, Justice Minallah noted that a Division Bench of the IHC in the judgment reported as "Riaz Hanif Rahi v. Federation of Pakistan through Secretary, Ministry of Law and Justice and 14 others" has held that Rule 108 of the Rules of 2007 and the powers conferred ibid falls within the expression "proceedings" of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) and, therefore, the bar under Article 69 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973.

He added that the jurisdiction of this Court is thus ousted and any direction given by this court would amount to transgression of the permissible constitutional limits.

The IHC bench maintained that this is the obvious wisdom for incorporating Rule 108 in the Rules of 2007.

Moreover, since the expression "may" has been used therein, therefore, the power vested in the speaker is of a discretionary nature.

It added that the Speaker, while exercising discretion under the said rule, has to, inter alia, take into consideration the rights of the constituents, particularly that they cannot be allowed to go unrepresented.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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