On behalf of the government, Attorney General of Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan has submitted a presidential reference to the Supreme Court, seeking its opinion on Article 63-A, which governs the disqualification of defecting lawmakers.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Munib Akhtar are expected to take up the reference today (Monday), which asks the court to decide on two interpretations of the controversial constitutional article, according to Dawn.
The first interpretation argues that “khiyanat (dishonesty) by way of defections warrants no pre-emptive action save de-seating the member as per the prescribed procedure with no further restriction or curbs from seeking election afresh.”
The second interpretation considers “this provision as prophylactic, enshrining the constitutional goal of purifying the democratic process, inter alia, by rooting out the mischief of defection by creating deterrence, inter alia, by neutralising the effects of vitiated vote followed by lifelong disqualification for the member found involved in such constitutionally prohibited and morally reprehensible conduct.”
Since the announcement of the opposition’s no-confidence motion, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has vied to disqualify PTI lawmakers who side with the opposition during the vote of no confidence.
Last week, two dozen PTI MNAs decamped to Sindh House, citing security concerns and threats from the PTI, with MNA Raja Riaz announcing that the lawmakers would vote ‘according to their conscience’ during the vote of no-confidence session.