- PA speaker says governor’s order against Constitution.
- He says trust vote cannot take place while session ongoing.
- PML-N asks Punjab CM, speaker to ensure session takes place.
As prevailing political unrest and constitutional crisis in Punjab further deepen on Tuesday, provincial assembly Speaker Sibtain Khan set aside Governor Baligh-ur-Rehman’s order and adjourned the ongoing session till Friday.
A day earlier, the Punjab governor summoned the provincial assembly’s session on December 21 (Wednesday) to deliberate on the no-confidence motion submitted by the lawmakers belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) against Chief Minister Parvez Elahi.
According to a notification issued by the Punjab Governor’s Secretariat, “The governor Punjab is pleased to sign order summoning the provincial assembly of Punjab at 1600 hours (4pm) on Wednesday and requiring the chief minister of Punjab to obtain a vote of confidence in terms of Article 130(7) of the Constitution.”
In his ruling, Speaker Sibtain Khan said that until and unless the current session is prorogued, the governor cannot summon any fresh session — according to a three-member bench of the Lahore High Court in the Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo vs Federation of Pakistan case.
The speaker added that the session in terms of Article 130(7) of the Constitution — under which the governor can summon a session for a vote of confidence — can “be determined only in a session which is especially summoned for this purpose”.
Khan added that such a session can only be summoned once the current session is prorogued by the speaker and cannot be summoned by the governor for Article 130(7) — vote of confidence — while the current session is going on.
The speaker further added that in line with the LHC’s order, the chief minister should be given “not less than 10 days” to obtain the vote of confidence. “Procedurally, that is the minimum time which is mandatorily to be provided to the chief minister.”
The governor is not empowered to summon the session requiring the chief minister to obtain a vote of confidence, he also said.
“In view of the above, the undersigned, in terms of Rule 209-A of the Rules of Procedure of the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab 1997, give ruling that the order of governor requiring chief minister to take vote of confidence, being not in accordance with aforementioned provisions of the Constitution and Rules of Procedure, may not be processed any further; hence, disposed of accordingly.”
In conversation with journalists earlier in the day, Khan had termed the governor’s order “controversial” and maintained that if a session is ongoing, he could not summon another.
In response, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan said the speaker should follow through on the governor’s order and it is the chief minister’s responsibility to ensure that the vote of confidence is taken.
“If the chief minister avoids taking the vote of confidence, then it will be perceived that he has lost the majority. If the chief minister has the support of 186 members, then why not prove it in the house?”
Ahmad said that if he had the support of enough lawmakers, then he wouldn’t have taken the support of the speaker’s ruling. “The session is ongoing and the chief minister should take the vote of confidence.”