Victory of Constitution


THE shining verdict of the Supreme Court declaring March 3 ruling of the Deputy Speaker National Assembly in relation to the resolution for a vote of no-confidence against Prime Minister Imran Khan under Article-95 of the Constitution as violation of the Constitution and illegal is neither a victory or setback for any party to the crisis but a victory of the Constitution and democracy.

The landmark judgement, delivered by the larger bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, would go a long way in upholding rule of law and Constitution, supremacy of Parliament and might help discourage the growing tendency of interpreting or misinterpreting different provisions and clauses of the Constitution including the clear ones, setting a healthy precedent for the future.

The joint opposition had already given a call to the people of Pakistan to observe Friday as ‘Day of Protection of the Constitution’ and the verdict of the apex court gave them justification to celebrate the day and there are reasons to make it a regular feature every year.

This is because it is one of the rare occasions in the checkered judicial history of the country that the due relief has been given without ifs and buts.

All actions and processes consequential to the unconstitutional ruling have also been rolled back as per dictates of justice and fairplay.

The National Assembly, which was dissolved within minutes of the ruling of the Deputy Speaker by the President of Pakistan on the advice of the Prime Minister stands restored.

It rightly pointed out that the advice tendered by the Prime Minister to the President to dissolve the Assembly was contrary to the Constitution and of no legal effect.

The court also declared that the Resolution for vote of no-confidence was pending and subsisting at all times and continues to so remain pending and subsisting.

It ordered that the Speaker should summon the National Assembly at 10.00 in the morning for voting on the no-trust resolution.

In case, the resolution is not carried, Prime Minister Imran Khan would continue and in case of its adoption by the required majority election for a new leader of the house should be held in the same session.

The bench left no doubt or deficiency in its judgement by declaring that all actions, acts or proceedings initiated, done or taken by reason of, or to give effect to the order of the President about dissolution of the NA and for purposes of holding a general election to elect a new Assembly including but not limited to the appointment of a caretaker Prime Minister and cabinet are of no legal effect and are quashed.

The order binds the Speaker to summon the session and prohibits its prorogation on any pretext without voting on the no-trust resolution against the Prime Minister.

In a way the order of the court also deals with the issue of defection under Article-63A of the Constitution and the language used clearly conveys the process of defection would trigger after a member votes against the party lines on the resolution of vote of no-confidence or election of the Prime Minister.

There is a minority view that the court should have revived the widely condemned ‘doctrine of necessity’ by sanctioning the (fresh) election process, which was hurriedly initiated by the Government.

In the first place, it is not the judiciary to decide about elections, which is the sole prerogative of Parliament and the political parties.

The Supreme Court is there to interpret the Constitution, which needed, and cannot and should not base its verdicts on considerations other than relevant constitutional provisions, laws and rules and regulations.

Secondly, if the ruling of the Deputy Speaker was unconstitutional then how the actions that flowed from it could be legitimized by the court.

As for the ruling, except for a handful of people who masterminded this strategy and those who follow them blindly, there was universal consensus among all segments of the society that the Deputy Speaker violated the Constitution and acted beyond his mandate and powers.

The violation was so blatant that even the Attorney-General of Pakistan declined to defend it before the five-member bench of the Supreme Court while other lawyers from the government side also found it extremely difficult to make their point on the issue.

Under these circumstances, the court was convinced that the Deputy Speaker acted in sheer violation of the relevant constitutional provisions and it was, perhaps, for the first time that the members of the bench made it known before delivering the judgement that the ruling was unconstitutional.

There was no option for the court not to order roll back of all actions consequential to the unconstitutional ruling as otherwise it would have been accused of rescuing the political strategy of the ruling party.

This is because the entire drama of foreign-funded conspiracy and the ruling was enacted to reject the no-trust resolution before a vote, giving legal cover to the Prime Minister to tender advice for dissolution of the Assembly, which he did.

By delivering a unanimous verdict as per aspirations of the majority, the Supreme Court has played its part well and deserves to the eulogized for its due role in the given precarious situation.

Now the ball is in the court of parliamentarians, politicians and political parties and the nation hopes they would also live up to its expectation by contributing their share in normalizing the situation and bringing much-needed political and economic stability to the country.

The court has given a roadmap and both the Government and the joint opposition should adhere strictly to the Constitution and the rules of the game.

The country has already suffered a lot as is evident from the fact that the exchange rate is hovering around 195 rupee a dollar, stock market is witnessing losses, foreign exchange reserves are depleting fast and an unusual energy crisis is brewing in summer.

Let the situation stabilize so that whoever forms the government (or retains it) could focus on addressing these crucial issues.

It is time we shun frequent use of cricket metaphors like ‘fighting till the last ball’ as politics and administration of a country have no parallel with cricket.

Genuine leaders unite the nation and avoid indulging in rhetoric or narrow egoism that could polarize the society further or add to the challenges of the country in different spheres of life.

It is also the responsibility of the media and public opinion makers to give up their partisan viewpoint and play their role in forging national unity and amity.


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