Supreme Court’s interpretation of Article 63. (A)
Supreme Court has denied the president’s request to impose a lifelong ban on defections from parliament. But has stated that votes cast against party lines would not be tallied.
President Arif Alvi filed a reference in Pakistan’s top court on March 21 seeking an interpretation of Article 63-A of the Constitution, which deals with parliamentarians being disqualified for defection.
The case was filed after a coalition of opposition political parties attempted to depose Prime Minister Imran Khan through a vote of no confidence.
Experts’ thoughts on Supreme Court’s interpretation of Article 63. (A)
The president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Ahsan Bhoon
‘It is against the Constitution not to count votes.’
The Supreme Court made a reasonable choice in sending back the matter of permanent disqualification, but not in counting the legislator’s vote, which I believe is against the Constitution.
I have to concur with the two dissenting justices on this point. The constitution has no provisions that preclude someone from voting. Instead, the constitution has established a penalty for voting against party lines, which entails losing one’s position in the legislature.
While the decision is advisory, it is also legally binding. Because this is a Supreme Court ruling, it will almost certainly be enforced.
A lawyer and talk-show host, Muneeb Farooq
‘It has the potential to cause a crisis in Punjab.’
This decision will have no bearing on what transpired in the national legislature. But if the votes of dissident legislators are ignored in Punjab, Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz would lose his majority. In this event, the chief ministerial election will have to be held again. However, the Court’s thorough decision will explain this.
In light of this decision, Pakistan‘s Election Commission will have to decide what to do about the members of Punjab’s provincial legislature who voted against party lines to elect Hamza Shehbaz.
Punjab may face a crisis as a result of this.
Supreme Court of Pakistan attorney Salman Akram Raja
‘The election for Punjab Chief Minister may be held again.’
The second round of elections will be held if no candidate for chief minister receives a majority — 50 percent of the entire membership of the house in the first round. In the second round, however, the candidate will not require 186 votes to win. Instead, he or she will need the support of the majority of members present in the parliament on that particular day.
Following the ruling, it is possible that the April 16 chief ministerial election in Punjab will be held again between the two candidates, Parvez Elahi and Hamza Shehbaz, or that the issue would be taken to court, as is most likely the case.
The ruling also implies that legislators may no longer vote against party lines.