Supreme Court observes ‘lawmakers bound to follow party policy’

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Suo-Motu

Islamabad: The Supreme Court, on Thursday, observed that lawmakers are bound to follow the policy of their political party. Justice Muneeb Akhtar of the Supreme Court passed the remarks during the hearing of presidential reference seeking interpretation on Article 63(A).

A five-member bench of the apex court headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Aijazul Ahsan, Justice Mazhar Alam, and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel were hearing the reference along with a plea filed by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) against public gatherings of the Opposition and the government in the federal capital — ahead of the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan.

During the hearing, Justice Akhtar observed, “lawmakers have to vote under their party’s mandate. They have to follow the party policy. Full stop. That is it.”

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, meanwhile observed that it would be “contemptuous” to not count vote cast during the no-trust proceedings against Prime Minister, adding that the real question was how long a dissident MNA could be disqualified for.

Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail questioned Attorney General whether the MNA’s vote could be counted in the proceedings conducted before he was de-seated, observing there was no mention of not counting a vote in the 18th Amendment.

Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Jawed Khan said that members elected to the assembly were bound by party discipline.

Justice Mandokhel remarked that Article 55 stipulates that all the parliamentary proceedings should be done through voting.

Whereas Chief Justice Bandial stated that Article 63(A) is a “discipline of the emerging political system.”

“The article binds the lawmakers to stand by their party no matter even if they are unhappy with it.”

At this, Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Jawed Khan said the country’s political system is based on Article 63(A) or Article 95 — whose violation could collapse the entire system.

Justice Mandokhel asked the AGP whether a party member could leave a party if it takes wrong decisions. AGP Khan said that if a member wants to part ways with the party then they should submit their written resignation.

At this, CJP Bandial said: “This means that if a person defects from their party, they will have to face consequences.”

While Justice Ahsan observed that if such a thing happens, then a new pandora’s box will open for the government as it already has a thin majority in the National Assembly.

Justice Akhtar reiterated that if every member starts deciding their own policy, then the political party would turn from an institution to a mob.

CJP then asked the AGP whether floor-crossing was allowed in other democratic countries or not. Responding to the chief justice, AGP Khan said: “In other countries, prices go down before Christmas. In our country, prices double during Ramadan.

Moreover, Justice Mandokhel asked the AGP whether he wanted the party leader to become the “king”?

“We neither want them to be king nor do we want them to become turncoats,” the AGP responded.

The CJP then adjourned the proceedings till tomorrow and issued notices to the SCBA, PTI’s allies, and all the political parties for assisting the apex court during the proceedings

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