LAHORE – The federal government could not produce Tuesday a resolution before the Lahore High Court (LHC) regarding formation of a parliamentary commission for creation of new provinces in Punjab, leading a judge to observe that prima facie no such resolution had been passed in the National Assembly (NA) as per case record.
During the previous hearing on March 1, Justice Khalid Mahmood Khan had directed additional attorney general Abdul Hayee Gilani, a federation’s counsel, to make the resolution part of the court record.
However instead of the resolution, the counsel Tuesday produced a letter written by a deputy secretary of NA stating a message received from presidency regarding the constitution of commission for creation of new provinces in Punjab was read out in the assembly on July 2012 under rule 67 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in NA, 2007.
“Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah, Minister for Religious Affairs moved for constitution of the said commission. Since, it was not opposed by the members of the national assembly; therefore, the speaker was authorised with consensus to constitute the aforesaid commission,” the letter read further, adding the proceedings of the House were the internal matter of the NA and were protected.
The letter has been submitted in the court in response of at least four petitions challenging the formation of the parliamentary commission for creation of Bhawalpur Janoobi Punjab (BJP) and its recommendations for inclusion of Mianwali in the new province. The petitioners’ lawyers told the court the proceedings of NA could be hidden, but the resolution was not a part of the proceedings.
“No such resolution has been passed. Otherwise, it can be produced before the court,” the lawyers argued.
At this, Justice Khalid observed under Article 69 the NA’s proceedings were secret, but it was necessary to produce the resolution passed on the matter. He added the court would not allow more to make part any further documents of the judicial record.
It appeared from the letter, written by the NA’s deputy secretary, that no such resolution was in the record, the judge added.
In their arguments, the petitioner-lawyers reiterated the President could send message under Article 56(2) of the constitution only when any bill was pending in the assembly, but he had no authority to direct the parliament.
No constitutional bill was pending in NA when the president sent message, the lawyers pointed out, adding he went beyond his powers.
They contended the presidential message was an attempt to amend the constitution. They repeated the creation of new provinces was a political stunt started by the governments.
During hearing, the courtroom also witnessed exchange of harsh words between government and petitioners’ lawyers.
The court put off hearing for March 7 (tomorrow). The court directed the counsels of both sides to complete their arguments on next date of hearing.
OVERRULED: The LHC overruled an objection put by registrar office on a constitutional petition demanding submission of progress reports of federal and provincial governments in the assemblies by the President and governors, respectively for implementing Principal of Policy under article 29(3) of the constitution.
The registrar office had put the objection on the petition moved by Muhammad Irfan Mukhtar by stating constitutional petition could not be moved against the President and governors who enjoys immunity under article 248.
Justice Nasir Saeed Sheikh heard the petition as an objection case and recorded arguments against objection by the petitioner’s lawyer.
In reply to the objection, the counsel argued the president had no immunity in performing his constitutional obligations. The matter pertained to the enforcement of the constitutional provisions only, and in such cases article 248 didn’t protect the president and governors from judicial proceedings.
The judge agreed with the arguments and directed the registrar office to fix it for hearing before an appropriate bench after removing the objection.
The petitioner had submitted it was constitutional responsibility of the president and governors to submit the progress reports of the federal and provincial governments in the parliament. In view of the Principles of Policy under Article 29(3) of constitution, the president and governors were bound to submit such reports every year.
RESERVED: The LHC reserved a verdict on a petition seeking disqualification of a PML-N MNA Malik Riaz on having fake graduation degree.
A citizen, Yousaf, filed the petition and alleged Riaz won the national assembly election from NA-118, on the basis of a fake degree of Azad Jammu Kashmir University.
Through counsel, he submitted that on instructions of Higher Education Commission, the university had conducted an inquiry and declared the degree of the MNA as bogus. He requested to invoke provisions of article 63 of the constitution and disqualify Riaz for holding the seat of the national assembly.
Counsel of Malik Riaz requested to dismiss the petition as it was based on ulterior motives as MNA had gotten a piece of hospital land vacated from the petitioner and as revenge he had challenged his election.
He also said the Azad Kashmir Supreme Court had also announced a verdict regarding the degree of his client.
After hearing, Justice Khalid Mahmood Khan reserved the judgment.