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ISLAMABAD: The counsel of Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani has submitted before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) that no decision related to parliamentary proceedings could be challenged before the courts.

A division bench comprising Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Tariq Mahmood Jahangiri, on Thursday, heard the Intra Court Appeal (ICA) of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Yousaf Raza Gilani against the IHC decision, wherein, it had turned down Gilani’s petition challenging the result of the elections for the chairman Senate.

Barrister Ali Zafar, representing Sanjrani, argued that under the law powers of the parliament, its presiding officers, committees, and members could not be challenged before the courts.

He said only a single party had challenged the decision of the presiding officer as parliamentary or any of its committee’s decision could only be discussed in the House.

Justice Farooq inquired from the counsel that in case of any clash between the members of the Parliament, they could register the first information report (FIR) against each other. At this, Barrister Ali Zafar said that an FIR could only be registered, if anyone was killed in the fight.

Mentioning a precedence of a quarrel in Parliament, he said that the parliament served a contempt notice to the lawyers who challenged the parliamentary violence in the court.

He said the British courts also treated the parliamentary proceedings as their inner subject and the courts could not interfere directly or indirectly in the affairs of the parliament.

The lawyer said that Pakistan’s parliament had the same privilege as the British parliament has kept.

Justice Farooq said that traditions were also followed in several matters in Britain.

Barrister Zafar said that the basic affairs in Pakistan were similar to the British parliament.

He pointed that his arguments were based on three points including freedom of expression, sovereignty, and powers of parliament and its members. He said that the institution could not be strengthened without these basic points.

He said that the house had freedom of expression under Article 66(1) and it had powers to make rules for regulating its procedure and the conduct of its business under Article 67.

He maintained that neither the parliamentary matter could be challenged in any court under Article 68 of the Constitution nor the court could raise question on the parliamentary proceedings under Article 69.

The lawyer further said that Article 66 also mentioned the privilege of parliamentary members. The 66(1) stated that the speech or vote of any member also could not be challenged in courts. He continued that the Constitution had drawn a clear line regarding the powers of the parliament and the courts.

Later, the bench directed him to conclude his arguments on the next hearing and deferred the hearing until August 10.

Gilani, through advocate Farooq H Naek had prayed before the court that the single bench of the IHC did not take into account complete facts during the proceedings of the case. He stated that illegal activities can be interpreted by the courts, whereas, it was the job of the court to provide compensation for illegality and in such cases the court has to check the intention of the voter.

Gilani contended, “The learned judge erred in failing to appreciate that the presiding officer at that particular time was not conducting the proceedings in the House, he was a nominated officer of the President for the sole purpose of conducting the election to the office of chairman Senate.”

He argued, “The proceedings of the house envisaged in the Constitution are proceedings comprising of legislative and deliberative functions of either houses of Majlis-e-Shoora (Senate and National Assembly) and not to executive functions which the presiding officer at that time was performing.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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