- Justice Ijaz observes that facts of 'dissident members [case] and this case are different'
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan dismissed the prayer of Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz, PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, and Deputy Speaker Punjab Dost Muhammad Mazari to form a full court to decide on the ruling of the deputy speaker.
A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Muneeb Akhtar on Monday heard the petitions of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Speaker Punjab Assembly Pervaiz Elahi, who was also contesting election for the CM Punjab.
In eight hour-long hearing, the counsels of CM Hamza, Deputy Speaker Mazari, and Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain all demanded full court be constituted as the interpretation of an important constitutional matter was involved.
They have also requested the court to hear the PTI and Elahi’s petitions along with the review against the Presidential Ordinance and the appeals of the PTI dissenters against the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)’s verdict to de-seat them.
Salahuddin Ahmed who represented the PML-Q president argued that people are aware of the past wonders of the Sharifs of Model Town and glory of the Chaudhrys of Gujrat.
He said that heavens would not fall if Pervaiz Elahi or Hamza Shehbaz became the chief minister of Punjab.
He said if the people would take this impression that a few judges of the Supreme Court decide every important political and constitutional matter then in my submission “yes heavens” would fall.
Justice Ijaz noted that in the current matter, there was an issue of lack of clarity in understanding the Article 63A of the Constitution and the Supreme Court’s judgment on the Presidential Reference on Article 63A.
Justice Ijaz further observed that the facts of the “dissident members [case] and the facts of this case are different”. “We did not get any evidence or instructions for the position of the defecting members,” he added.
The judge said that “here the issue is different. All 10 members cast their votes. No member voted for the other side. All of them voted for the same side. Out of the 10 members, not a single one said that the parliamentary party did not meet”.
In the case of the “PTI’s defecting members, Imran Khan had issued directives” but the lawmakers had claimed that they “did not receive a show-cause notice”, stated Justice Ahsan. “This was the matter in the defecting lawmaker’s appeals,” said the judge.
The chief justice also added that “in the appeals, it is not the position of the dissenting members that the instructions were not received”.
Salahuddin argued that the apex court’s judgment in the cases of Rawalpindi District Bar Association case, Zulfiqar Bhutta is clear that the political head is important and gives the party direction.
He pleaded that all the matters – review against the Supreme Court’s judgment, appeal against the ECP be heard by all the judges of the judiciary so that there is a consistent view of the interpretation of the Article 63A, whether the direction should be issued by the Parliamentary Party or the Political Party head.
All these issues should be thrashed out by the full court. He contended that the party head issues the tickets to the candidates to contest elections and they contest on the party symbol.
Justice Ijaz said that it is written in Article 63A and the apex court’s judgment that the direction is issued by the parliamentary party head and not the political party head.
He said that in this case, no direction was issued by the parliamentary party, adding the deputy speaker took out the letter from his pocket and announced that the president PML-Q has advised the members not to give votes to Pervaiz Elahi as he is the candidate of the PTI.
Salahuddin said that it is wrong that Chaudhary Shujaat had not conveyed its reservation before the voting. He said that he has documents which would show that the letters were written to the PML-Q MPAs before the voting day i.e. 22-07-22.
Salahuddin said that when there is polarisation and there is division and fissure in the society then it is the collective wisdom of the judges that can pacify the people. He said that in the case of 21st Amendment, full court was constituted.
Justice Bandial said in the polarised environment which exists, it is important that the issue is decided expeditiously so that the political crisis is resolved, adding the crisis has been brewing and festering since April this year. You want to prolong the matter further by constituting the Full Court to hear it.
“We cannot allow that the matter is prolonged and dragged. Our economic situation is becoming worst day by day. Currency is falling and every citizen is affected by the economic crisis.” He questioned whether all these things are happening due to the Supreme Court.
Irfan Qadir, representing the deputy speaker, said that in Justice Qazi Faez’s case that a 10-judge bench of the Supreme Court had heard the case. He said that all the social media was saying that why only three judges hear every important constitutional and political matter.
He asked the bench to constitute Full Court to dispel this impression. He said when the litigant shows slightest element of bias against any judge then he does not think twice to recuse from the bench.
He questioned why the bench was eager to give a quick judgment on the petition of a political party whose President, Prime Minister and Speaker National Assembly, were recently declared by the Supreme Court as having committed constitutional fraud.
He also asked why the counsel of Pervaiz Elahi was emphasising on it that the same bench is hearing the matter.
Irfan Qadir said the PML-Q head had refrained his members from casting vote in favour of the PTI, who called Pervaiz Elahi “a dacoit”. He requested the court not to decide the case in a hurry.
Farooq H Naek, counsel of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), sought time till Thursday to argue the case. The bench declining his request adjourned the case until today (Tuesday) 11:30am.
Earlier, Chaudhry Shujaat and Hamza Shehbaz had filed their replies to the petitions of the PTI. The PPP and Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, head of PML-Q, filed applications with the SC, requesting to be made a party to the deputy speaker’s ruling case that is currently being heard by the court.
Chaudhry Shujaat in his application to the court said that he “wrote a letter to the deputy speaker on July 22”, and argued that Dost Mazari had “disregarded the votes on the basis of the letter”.
“The votes given to Pervez Elahi by the PML-Q MPAs were in violation of Article 63” furthered the application and requested the court to make Chaudhry Shujaat a party to the case as he was “the relevant party in the case”.
PML-N leader Hamza Shehbaz filed a petition in the Supreme Court to form a full bench on Elahi’s petition and also requested the court to hear the appeal for revision of Article 63A.
In his petition, Hamza requested the court to hear the appeals of the PTI’s “deviant” members against the ECP’s decision along with hearing Elahi’s plea.
“July 22 ruling of the deputy speaker is correct,” he maintained, adding that the PTI’s dissident lawmakers’ appeals are still pending against the decision of the electoral watchdog, wherein, the ECP had disqualified 25 lawmakers who had not voted in line with the party’s instructions during the April 16 election of the provincial chief executive.
According to the petition, the situation would be “radically different” if the apex court upholds the dissident members’ appeals, and the votes given by the 25 dissident members are considered.
Hamza stated that since the ECP upheld Imran Khan’s letter of instructions against the dissident members, Chaudhry Shujaat’s letter to his MPAs must also be considered “under the Constitution and the law”.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022