Is our Constitution in abeyance? Is there a rule of law prevailing in the country? Is the Pakistan nation state still alive and working? All valid questions given the imbroglio and constitutional anarchy created in the wake of frantic and unbridled attempt by the Prime Minister (or the ex- Prime Minister?) to escape his removal from the National Assembly and his Chief Minister’s removal from Punjab Assembly.
Our Supreme Court (SC) has take suo moto notice of Deputy Speaker’s egregious ruling that dismissed the no confidence resolution against the Prime Minister (PM) without conducting the required voting. Article 184(3) of the Constitution empowers the Court to issue any order “if a question of public importance with reference to the enforcement of any Fundamental Right…is involved…”
Firstly, short suo moto hearings are different than long, regular case hearings which are adversarial in nature and where are two parties are involved. In the latter SC sees a glaring violation of fundamental rights and steps in to urgently rectify it, like a fire fighter. So in this case SC moved in urgently to urgently correct the wrong done in NA. And time is especially of the essence since each day of governmental limbo results in huge losses to the nation .
Secondly, Deputy Speaker’s ruling was wrong and unconstitutional on so many counts. 1. Abdication of his duty to conduct impartial voting on a no confidence resolution ( Schedule2 of NA Rules of Business and Art 95. 96 of Pak Constitution). 2. Only the Speaker has authority to deny a motion, Rule 28). 3.Misuse of declaratory Art 5 to deny this resolution. 4. Denial of fundamental rights of due process, fair trial (Art 10A) and voting to members. Ruling that members were not loyal citizens, that they had nexus to a conspiracy to overthrow the PM in a conspiracy with a foreign country without any evidence , documents or court decision , was illegal and unconstitutional. 5. Failure to follow the NA agenda that had admitted no confidence motion for voting. 5. Dep Speaker cannot issue a ruling on behalf of or in the name of an absent Speaker. 6. Failure to open debate and give the Opposition an opportunity to respond on the Government’s reason to reject the resolution.
Thirdly, Imran Khan, as PM, improperly advised President Alvi to dissolve the Assembly in violation of Article 58 (1) (and Article 96). It clearly says that a PM against whom a no confidence motion has been submitted cannot seek to dissolve the Assembly until it has been voted upon.
Fourthly, as events unfolded within the National Assembly and outside showed a pre meditated, orchestrated scheme involving the PM, Deputy Speaker, Law Minister and the President to subvert and obstruct the constitutional process, specified in Article 58, 95, 96 etc, of the Constitution, was subverted and obstructed. The events showed that the Deputy Speaker’s reading of a prepared writing, the Law Minister’s handing of a note , the Prime Minister’s immediate broadcast of a speech that was recorded prior to Dep Speaker’s ruling and the President immediate acceptance of PM’s s dissolution advice was a pre planned conspiracy.
Finally, It must be noted that the above improper and unconstitutional actions that made a mockery of the Pakistan Constitution and its key element of removal of a prime minister goes to the heart of our nascent democracy. The writ of the state and the constitution is at stake. The recent illegal actions jeopardise the very viability of our existence as a nation state that cannot function in the absence a functional constitution.
As such, its imperative on the Supreme Court that after ruling on the wrongful and unconstitutional actions of the Deputy Speaker and the Prime Minster, it must dwell on the possibility if the said office bearers did indeed conspire to subvert the Constitution as stipulated above, and if so, they must be prosecuted pursuant to Article 6 of the Constitution. Perhaps the Court can appoint a Commission to inquire into this.
The fact is that this horrendous episode goes much beyond the personal interests of any individual: it touches upon the future of our nation to continue as a modern democratic republic and the aspirations and destiny of its people.