Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial remarked that punishing dissenting lawmakers with a lifetime ban would be too severe a punishment, despite defection being a ‘serious menace’.
The remarks came during a continuation of the hearings of a presidential reference filed regarding the interpretation of Article 63-A, which deals with the disqualification of dissident MNAs.
The five-member bench was headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, and also consisted of Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail.
“For the progress of the country, a stable government is needed,” the chief justice said, adding that “the game of musical chairs that has been taking place for power since the 1970s must end.”
At the resumption of the hearing, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid’s (PML-Q) lawyer Azhar Siddiq continued his arguments from Tuesday.
He argued that the purpose of Article 63-A is to restrict the members of political parties from defecting and claimed that dissidents of PTI violated the party policy on April 16 by voting for Hamza Shehbaz in the election of Punjab chief minister.
He further said that the matter of defection had been lingering since 1960, at which CJP Bandial reprimanded him and said that Article 63-A had been incorporated into the Constitution through a democratic amendment.
“The court believes that defection is a serious mistake but disqualifying someone for life is a very strict punishment,” the chief justice remarked, adding that the SC has set some conditions for disqualification for life.
The hearing was subsequently adjourned till Monday (May 16).