April 4, 2022
By Hamid Riaz
The Supreme Court on Monday continued its hearing into the crucial constitutional questions raised during Sunday’s extraordinary session of the National Assembly when a motion against Imran Khan was disallowed by Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri before it could be put to vote in the house.
Shortly after the SC convened a special session and announced that it was taking suo motu notice of the crisis. The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and the united opposition had also filed petitions in the court regarding the matter which were merged into the suo motto hearing.
The hearing, originally slotted for 1 pm, started with a 25-minute delay when the 5-member-bench walked into the bustling courtroom. The hearing kicked off with PTI’s counsel Babar Awan briefly arguing for merging hearings of the presidential reference with this hearing, which the court instantly rejected.
Awan concluded his brief speech by announcing to the courtroom that “Imran Khan is ready to hold elections.” To which the court instantly responded by declaring that it did not want to be dragged into politics.
Senator Farooq H Naek, PPP’s lawyer started out by remarking on the importance of transparency while forming benches on crucial constitutional matters, seemingly alluding to the absence of Justice Qazi Faez Isa from the bench. The CJ responded by offering to leave the bench if Naek did not have confidence in him. Naek reneged immediately.
The bulk of Naek’s (initial) argument was centered around narrating the “delays” on the part of the NA speaker in dealing with the no-confidence motion following its submission on March 8th, a bid to prove the mal intent of the speaker.
Pointing out that the speaker inexplicably did not hold an assembly session until March 20th and that he (again) inexplicably adjourned the March 25th session without any proceedings whatsoever. The house was finally allowed to grant leave to the motion on March 28th. Even though the speaker was bound to hold a session of parliament 14 days after the submission of the no-confidence motion (March 8th).
“Under Article 95 of the Constitution, a no-confidence motion can only be rejected by the house and not the speaker. The speaker can only reject a VNC if less than 20 people move it, which was clearly not the case here,” Naek told the court.
While talking about the “letter” invoked by the PTI to establish a “foreign conspiracy” the court asked Mr. Naek and counsels of all political parties in the house to explain to the court why the opposition did not attend the National Security Committee meeting in which the said letter was shown.
An important emphasis of today’s hearing was a question that had already been invoked by the court in its written order after Sunday’s special session, is the deputy speaker’s ruling disallowing voting on the no-confidence motion protected from judicial intervention.“Article 69 of the Constitution protects internal parliamentary procedures from judicial intervention and not procedures listed in the constitution,” remarked Justice Muneeb Akhtar. During the discussion around the point, an Indian judgment to the exact same effect was also invoked by the court itself. Additionally, the court also pointed out that article 69 of the constitution protects “irregularities in parliamentary procedures” from judicial intervention and not “illegalities in parliamentary procedures”.
Towards the end of the hearing, Mr. Naek implored the court to issue a ruling today declaring that the matter was too sensitive to be delayed. The court denied his request arguing that the matter was in fact too important to be decided in haste. The court later adjourned the hearing till 12 pm Tuesday and advised all counsels to come better prepared with concise and to-the-point arguments as the “court wanted to resolve this matter quickly.”