The coalition government has decided to file a petition in the Supreme Court (SC) for the formation of a full court bench to hear cases related to the interpretation of Article 63-A of the Constitution, related to the status of defecting lawmakers, according to a statement issued by Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb on Sunday.
The issue was thrust into the limelight on Friday when Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Mohammad Mazari decided not to count PML-Q’s votes in the Punjab chief minister’s election, deeming them to be against party head Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain’s directions and thus handing Hamza Shehbaz the victory over PML-Q leader Chaudhry Parvez Elahi.
Mazari’s ruling was challenged by Elahi in a petition filed and in Saturday’s hearing at the SC’s Lahore registry, the apex court allowed Hamza to stay as a “trustee” Punjab chief minister till Monday.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial had also remarked that prima facie, the deputy speaker’s ruling was against the apex court’s verdict in the Article 63-A reference.
As the closely watched Saturday proceedings came to an end, the PML-N began publicly pushing for a full court bench and questioned the “one-sidedness” of the decision from a “particular bench” of the apex court.
The government alliance has now decided to formally move the SC in this regard, the information minister said today.
The leaders of the government alliance will also address a press conference at 10:30am on Monday.
The leaders will then go to the apex court with their lawyers to request the formation of a full court bench that jointly hears cases related to the election of Punjab’s chief minister, the Supreme Court Bar Association’s (SCBA) review petition of the SC’s opinion on Article 63-A and other related petitions.
The statement said the PPP, PML-N and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl will go to the SC, while the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, Balochistan National Party, Balochistan Awami Party and other allied parties will be among the petitioners as well.
“The lawyers of all the parties will argue in the Supreme Court on Article 63-A of the Constitution,” the statement said.
A day ago, the ruling alliance issued a declaration, demanding that the chief justice of Pakistan constitute a full court to hear the petition against the Punjab chief minister’s election, calling it “an important national, political and constitutional matter”.
The declaration stated that the Constitution had drawn a clear line of authority between the legislature, judiciary, and the administration, which an “arrogant, anti-constitution and fascist” person was trying to erase.
The component parties of the ruling coalition said in the declaration that they would not compromise on the Constitution, democracy, and the right of the people to rule.
On May 17, the SC had decided on a presidential reference seeking interpretation of Article 63-A that the votes of defecting lawmakers will not be counted.
Subsequently, on June 23, the SCBA filed a petition in the apex court on for a review of its decision.
Full court bench is ‘requirement of justice’: law minister
Meanwhile, Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar addressed a press conference in Lahore with Punjab government spokesperson Attaullah Tarar, calling for the formation of a full court bench to hear cases related to Article 63-A’s interpretation.
He said cases such as the SCBA’s review petition or Friday’s Punjab CM election or appeals of de-seated dissident PTI MPAs were all linked together. “The most foundational case is Article 63-A’s interpretation with which all these matters are solved,” he added.
Referring to Hamza, the law minister said that if a representative of the people was to be sent home through a legal decision then it was a requirement of justice, transparency and independence for a full court bench to hear the matter.
He also rejected allegations of the PML-N being behind a recent social media trend that criticised apex court judges and said his party highly respected state institutions.