SPEAKER National Assembly Asad Qaiser, on Sunday, summoned the session of the National Assembly at the requisition of the joint opposition parties to discuss and vote upon the motion of no-confidence for which a notice has already been deposited with the NA Secretariat.
However, the move has triggered yet another controversy with the opposition claiming it would approach the Supreme Court over gross violation of the relevant constitutional provisions.
The opposition filed a requisition with the NA Secretariat for a session of the National Assembly on March 8 and the Speaker was required to call the session within 14 days i.e.
up to March 21 as Clause (3) of Article 54 of the Constitution clearly stipulates “Following a requisition signed by not less than one-fourth of the total membership of the National Assembly, the Speaker shall summon the National Assembly to meet, at such time and place as he thinks fit, within 14 days of the receipt of the requisition; and when the Speaker has summoned the Assembly only he may prorogue it.
” However, citing non-availability of a suitable venue for holding of the session (as hall of the NA will be used as venue for hosting Conference of OIC Foreign Ministers), the Speaker has convened the session on March 25 sparking strong reaction from the opposition, which views the conduct of the Speaker as highly partisan and biased.
The Speaker has not adhered to the timeline clearly provided in the Constitution relying on Article-25-4, which says “When any act or thing is required by the Constitution to be done within a particular period and it is not done within that period, the doing of the act or thing shall not be invalid or other-wise ineffective by reason only that it was not done within that period”.
With this in view, in the eyes of the law, Asad Qaiser might not have violated the Constitution but it would have been much better if a lame excuse was not used to violate the spirit of the Constitution just for delaying the session for four days, which might or might not benefit the government in the ultimate analysis.
The country would not progress and prosper until and unless it is run and governed strictly in accordance with the provisions and spirit of the Constitution.
The leadership of the incumbent government never gets tired of speaking about rule of law and Constitution but what the Speaker did, conveys an unfortunate impression.
The SC would also be interpreting Article-63 of the Constitution that deals with disqualification of a Member of Parliament on grounds of defection.
According to legal and constitutional experts, the article clearly provides that the process of disqualification would trigger once a member has voted against the direction of the party but the government claims the objective of the article was to prevent horse-trading and, therefore, the Speaker has the power to disallow voting to dissident members.
According to PTI Secretary-General Asad Umar, the presidential reference in this regard is monumental as this would put the bizarre trade of buying loyalties and becoming turncoat in politics to an end forever and the influence of money in politics would be reduced.
No doubt, the practice of sale and purchase of loyalties is a curse and must be stopped but unfortunately the track record of almost all parties on this account is not enviable as most of them welcomed turn-coats when needed to strengthen their grip on the power.
We have seen that the entire ruling party condemned all those who are suspected of changing their loyalties on the occasion of no-trust move but at the same time, frantic efforts are being made to embrace them once again.
Is this principle-based politics? The court would interpret the relevant provisions but irrespective of the interpretation all parties should join hands in formulating and enacting clear-cut laws to discourage this practice in future.
In fact, both the government and the opposition lost numerous opportunities in the past to strike a consensus on electoral reforms and as a result they continue to suffer alternatively.
It is time they shun petty and self-serving considerations and work together for continuity and stability of the democratic system and healthy democratic practices/traditions.