A five-judge bench of the Pakistan Supreme Court has delivered a unanimous verdict, terming the National Assembly Deputy Speaker’s decision to dismiss the no-confidence motion against the Imran Khan government as “unconstitutional”.
The bench has ordered the reinstatement of the National Assembly in contravention of President Arif Alvi’s decision to dissolve the lower house of Pakistan’s Parliament. In addition, opposition parties have been granted permission to hold the no-confidence motion against the Imran Khan government.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court has also declared the order of fresh elections as “null and void”.
According to sources, the no-confidence motion was likely to be held in the National Assembly on April 9.
Earlier in the day, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, while hearing a petition on whether Imran Khan and his allies had the legal right to dissolve parliament had said that the ruling of National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri to dismiss the no-confidence motion against the former Prime Minister was erroneous. It was prima facie, a violation of Article 95 of the Constitution, he had observed.
During the hearing on Thursday, Senator Ali Zafar, representing the President Arif Alvi, was asked by the Bench as to whether the PM was the people’s representative and if the “Parliament was not a guardian of the Constitution”.
The Supreme Court asked the President’s lawyer as to how could there be a constitutional crisis if everything was happening according to the law of the land.
The CJP also asked whether the formation of the federal government was an “internal matter” of the Parliament. This was in response to a contention made by Imran Khan’s lawyer Imtiaz Siddiqui, who said, “The Speaker took a better decision as per his oath. It is entirely the internal business of Parliament and can’t be questioned. The court has not interfered in the proceedings of parliament in the past. The proceedings of the House are beyond the jurisdiction of the judiciary.”
The Supreme Court had on Monday heard arguments both from Khan’s legal team and his allies, and also the opposition, but then adjourned the session.
On Wednesday, it had sought the minutes of the National Security Council meeting to know more about the alleged “foreign conspiracy” as it delayed its verdict on whether Prime Minister Khan had violated the Constitution by dissolving Parliament rather than face a no-confidence vote.
It may be recalled that National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri had on April 3 ruled that the no-confidence motion was linked with a “foreign conspiracy” to topple the government and hence was not maintainable. Minutes later, President Arif Alvi dissolved the National Assembly on the advice of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Khan had lost his majority in parliament last week when a key ally quit his coalition, which could give the opposition the 172 votes in the 342-seat house needed to force him out.
The prevailing crisis began to unfold after the opposition submitted a no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister on March 8.
Pakistan has been wracked by political crisis for much of its 75-year existence, and no prime minister has ever seen out a full term.
There had been high hopes for Khan when he was elected in 2018 on a promise of sweeping away decades of entrenched corruption and cronyism, but he has struggled to maintain support with soaring inflation, a feeble rupee and crippling debt.
The opposition had expected to take power on April 3 after mustering enough support to oust him, but the deputy speaker had put paid to that.
Khan has alleged that the opposition had gone too far by colluding with the United States for “regime change”. The cricket star-turned-politician contends that Western powers want him removed because he will not stand with them against Russia and China.