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Where are NSC meeting’s minutes? CJP asks Babar Awan

ISLAMABAD, APR 6: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial on Wednesday asked the lawyer for the PTI government, Babar Awan, about the minutes of the recent meeting of the National Security Committee which had discussed a letter purportedly showing evidence of a foreign conspiracy to oust the PTI-led government.

The CJP made the inquiry as a five-member bench, comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, took up a suo motu case on the events of April 3 when National Assembly (NA) Deputy Speaker Qasim Shah Suri dismissed the no-confidence motion against the prime minister and President Dr Alvi dissolved the NA on the premier’s advice.

During the hearing, Justice Bandial questioned the basis on which the speaker issued the ruling. He observed that, so far, the ruling consisted of accusations not findings. “Can the speaker announce such a ruling without presenting the facts,” he asked, adding that this was the constitutional point on which the court had to make a decision.

He also asked Awan to inform the court whether the speaker could issue a ruling that was not on the day’s agenda by bypassing Article 95. He told the PTI counsel to defend the ruling with “solid” evidence.

“Where are the minutes of the NSC meeting?” he asked Awan, also asking the PTI counsel about the basis on Suri exercised his authority.

‘SC can’t review speaker’s ruling’

After Awan, President Arif Alvi’s counsel, Ali Zafar, began his arguments, insisting that any direction from the court on the matter of the deputy speaker’s ruling would exceed its jurisdiction.

Zafar pointed out that the case under discussion concerned the interpretation of Articles 95 and 69. “There are six rules for interpreting the provisions of the Constitution. It should be understood in accordance with its true spirit rather than just words.”

He said just like judicial proceedings could not be debated in the parliament, courts, too, could not interfere in the proceedings of the parliament.

“Unfortunately, the petitioners want the case to be heard as an appeal against the ruling of the deputy speaker,” he said, adding that the case was in fact an interference in the prerogatives of the NA.

Zafar explained that even if 10 MNAs were not allowed to vote and were expelled from the house, such a move could not be challenged by anyone.

Here, the CJP said: “But they [opposition] are saying that a new speaker should come and voting should be held again.”

“To approach the court against the ruling of the deputy speaker is interference in the parliament,” Zafar said, adding that giving instructions to the speaker was equivalent to giving instructions to the parliament, which was unconstitutional.

To this, CJP Bandial asked if interference was not possible even if the Constitution was violated.

“I will give my arguments on what is constitutional and what isn’t later,” Zafar replied.

The lawyer recalled that Justice Maqbool Baqir, on his retirement, spoke of balance in institutions.

“Only mutual respect can create balance in institutions.”

He went on to say that if the house was not satisfied with the speaker, it could opt for a no-trust motion.

“But if the speaker’s ruling is reviewed, every decision taken by him would be brought to court,” Zafar argued, reiterating that the court had no power to review the speaker’s ruling.

At this point, Justice Ahsan asked if the court could review the prime minister’s advice to dissolve the NA.

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