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Pakistan govt approaches SC, seeks opinion on disqualification of dissident lawmakers – Times of India



ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government on Monday filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking clarification on a constitutional point over disqualification of dissident lawmakers who have threatened to vote against embattled Prime Minister Imran Khan during a no-trust motion.
Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan submitted the move, also called a presidential reference, about interpretation of Article 63-A of the Constitution in the wake of nearly two dozen lawmakers of the ruling party threatening to vote in favour of the opposition’s no-trust motion.
The article says that anyone voting against the directive of the party leader on key issues like no-trust move or money bill will be disqualified.
The law is silent on the duration of disqualification, but Prime Minister Khan has threatened life-time disqualification for the dissidents.
A two-judge bench, comprising Pakistan Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Munib Akhtar, heard the matter along with a plea filed by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) seeking intervention to keep peace ahead of the no-trust vote.
The bench decided to constitute a larger bench for hearing the two petitions over the disqualification of dissident lawmakers and intervention of the top court to ensure peaceful conduct of the no-trust vote.
After the preliminary hearing, the bench announced to form a larger five-member bench and adjourned the hearing till March 24.
The apex court, while adjourning the hearing, announced that any political party eager to become a respondent in the reference may file an application.
The petition highlights two interpretations of disqualification under Article 63-A, including simple de-seating the member with no further curbs, and lifetime disqualification along with the zero effects of the vitiated vote.
Khan’s party is trying to seek a ruling that an erring member’s vote should not be counted, so that vote of its dissident lawmakers in the favour of the no-trust move should not add to the total number of votes against the Prime Minister.
These votes are crucial as the opposition needs 172 votes to remove the Prime Minister along with his cabinet.
Around 100 lawmakers from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) submitted the no-confidence motion before the National Assembly Secretariat on March 8, alleging that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government led by Prime Minister Khan was responsible for the economic crisis and the spiralling inflation in the country.
On Sunday, the National Assembly Secretariat issued a notification, paving the way for holding the key session on Friday.
Khan, 69, is heading a coalition government and he can be removed if some of the partners decide to switch sides.
In the 342-member National Assembly, the Opposition needs 172 votes to remove Khan, the cricketer-turned-politician.
The PTI has 155 members in the House and needs at least 172 lawmakers on its side to remain in the government. The party has the support of 23 members belonging to at least six political parties.
Nearly two dozen dissident lawmakers of the ruling party recently came out in the open ahead of voting on the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Khan, with the government accusing opposition parties of horse-trading.
On Saturday, the ruling party issued show-cause notices to its dissident lawmakers for alleged defection and sought an explanation from them by March 26 as to why they may not be declared defectors and disqualified as a member of the National Assembly.

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