ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court of Pakistan, while announcing opinion in the presidential reference seeking interpretation of Article 63(A), said that the vote of dissident party members will not be counted.
A five-member larger bench of the apex court headed by CJP Bandial, and comprising Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan, Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel, Justice Muneeb Akhtar and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel had reserved the judgement.
While giving its oponion, the top court remarked that the article concerned cannot be interpreted alone. The opinion was given by the Supreme Court in a 3-2 ratio. Justice Mando Khel and Justice Mazhar Alam of the five-member bench disagreed.
Chief Justice Omar Ata Bandial, Justice Ejaz-ul-Haq and Justice Muneeb Akhtar said that the vote cast by the defecting member should not be counted while Justice Mazhar Alam Mian Khel and Justice Mandokhel disagreed.
It may be recalled that Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan, Justice Mazhar Alam Mian Khel, Justice Muneeb Akhtar and Justice Jamal Mandokhel were part of the larger bench. Chief Justice of Pakistan Omar Ata Bandial has said that a detailed decision will be issued later.
The apex court further stated that the parliament should legislate to decide on the issue of disqualification of dissident lawmakers. However, the court sent back the question to the President seeking disqualification of dissident members for life. The Court observed that it is the right time for the parliament to go for legislation regarding the time period of disqualification of a dissident lawmaker.
The top court opinion said that deviation is tantamount to weakening the political party and Article 63A protects political parties in the political arena. The court said that the purpose of Article 63A is to prevent defections in the party and Parliament should legislate in this regard, it is time to legislate on dissident members.
Former PTI-led government had approached the SC for clarity on Article 63(A) as several PTI lawmakers were likely to vote on the no-trust motion against then prime minister Imran Khan, in a violation of the party policy.
In the reference, the government sought the apex court’s opinion on interpretations of Article 63(A) and which one should be adopted and implemented.
What was asked in presidential reference?
1. Whether defected members cannot be prevented from vote under Article 63(A) for violating party policy?
2. Will the vote of defected members can be counted or not?
3. Whether those who go against the party policy will be disqualified for life-time or not?
4. What is the period of disqualification under Article 63(A)?
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