ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday declined to grant a stay against Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri’s order to hold the National Assembly session on April 22.
A three-judge larger bench headed by Chief Justice Athar Minallah, and comprising Justice Amir Farooq and Justice Babar Sattar on Friday heard the petition of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Murtaza Javed Abbasi against the delay in the NA session.
The IHC short order said; “At this stage, we do not have any reason to doubt that the Deputy Speaker may have exercised powers based on malafide. The sitting of the National Assembly for electing the Speaker has been called on 22-04-2022 vide Circular, dated 13- 04-2022.” “We expect that the election will take place on the said date to fill the office of the Speaker,” it added.
The bench said that the questions raised by the petitioner are of paramount public importance and, therefore, issued notices to the respondents, and the Secretary National Assembly is directed to submit para-wise comments before the date fixed.
The petition stated that the IHC should direct the deputy speaker to convene a session on April 16 to conduct the election of the speaker. Advocate Mansoor Awan, representing the petitioner, informed that the April 13 circular stated that the assembly would convene on April 22 instead of April 16, to elect the NA Speaker.
“The National Assembly is functioning without a speaker; the speaker’s office cannot be left vacant,” remarked Justice Minallah, adding this matter was under the purview of the internal proceedings of parliament.
Mansoor contended that there was a period of at least seven days to convene the meeting, as the NA is functioning without a speaker and the deputy speaker is currently exercising the powers of the speaker. He further said the rules stipulated that a speaker be elected as soon as possible. “It is also a conflict of interest to adjourn the case when there is a notice to remove someone,” he argued.
The counsel, inter alia, contended that no confidence proceedings are pending against respondent no 3 and, therefore, it raises the question of conflict of interest. It has been asserted that the latter has arbitrarily exercised his powers so as to delay the election of the Speaker; respondent no 3 has purportedly exercised powers in violation of Article 53 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 read with rule 12 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly, 2007; the power exercised by the Deputy Speaker does not attract the bar under Article 69 of the Constitution.
Justice Amir Farooq inquired whether any reason was given to delay the NA session. Mansoor replied that no reason had been provided. “This is only being done to prolong the case and use delaying tactics,” he said, and added the courts were entitled to intervene on these grounds.
Mansoor said there was a conflict of interest with the deputy speaker and no reason was provided for the postponing of the session. “You want the deputy speaker to further adjourn the session?” he asked the court.
The CJP stated that the court could not interfere with the “dignity of parliament”, adding that there was no reason to doubt the deputy speaker’s intentions. He asked the counsel to satisfy the court on the issue of non-interference in the proceedings of the parliament.
The case was adjourned until April 22.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022