Supreme Court seeks
interpretation of Article 63-A

ISLAMABAD (APP): The Supreme Court on Monday adjourned hearing on Presidential reference seeking its opinion on Article 63-A of the Constitution till Tuesday.
A five-member larger bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan, Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel heard the Presidential reference.
During the course of proceedings, the assistant of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan filed an application pleading the court to adjourn the hearing till May 17 as he would return from abroad on May 15.
Upon this, the chief justice directed that Ali Khan be asked to return to the country sooner.
The Chief Justice said that Presidential References and constitutional petitions were before the court. He said that the court would give its opinion on the legal question. It was the court’s duty to protect the Constitution. The interpretation of Article 63-A was essential for parliamentary democracy, he added. He said that the court took suo moto notice on ruling of the Deputy Speaker National Assembly, which dismissed the no-confidence motion against the former Prime Minister Imran Khan, after consultation with the judges.
He said that suo motu notice was taken at the bench’s discretion and not on anyone’s wishes. He said that the court took last suo moto notice after consultation with 12 judges. He said that all the judges agreed that it was a constitutional matter that needed to be taken up by the court.
Justice Ijaz said that the question was only of the interpretation of Article 63-A and it was not court’s issue whether the interpretation applied to the federation or provinces. All parties would be bound to respect the court’s decision, he added.
Advocate Azhar Siddique said that the judicial opinion on the Senate election was not respected.
The Additional Attorney General said that the new Attorney General also wanted to give his opinion on the matter. The disqualification reference under section 63-A was pending before the Election Commission of Pakistan, he added.
PTI counsel Babar Awan said that he wanted to assist the apex court in the case and added he greatly respected the court.
Addressing the counsel, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail said that the same respect should be spread among the public. Tell the people that the court also opened at night. The Balochistan High Court also opened at 2:30am, he added.
Babar responded that it was the information ministry’s job to aware the people. He said that Articles 62 and 63 should be read together.
The Chief Justice said that the reference had been filed in the Election Commission against the dissident parliamentarians.
He said that the court had to interpret the Article for future generations. He said that an MNA’s seat could become vacant under both Article 63 and Article 64 but they were not similar. He said that the court had to determine the purpose of the Articles. The court had to look at constitutional principles rather than individual actions.
He said that the apex court was not concerned with the 25 dissident lawmakers of the PTI.
The Chief Justice asked Babar Awan why his client did not submit an application if the party was concerned at the non-implementation of the apex court’s opinion regarding Senate elections. There was a difference between the court and the executive, he added.
Advocate Azhar said that there were rumours that the federal government would withdraw the reference.
Upon this, the Chief Justice said that he believed that the federal government had recognized the importance of reference.