National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza’s decision not to forward a reference to the Election Commission against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, smacks of being partisan. The stand that Dr Mirza has taken was widely expected, as it falls in line with the government’s position in support of the Prime Minister, after his conviction by the Supreme Court. It borders on the ridiculous, even farcical, to be faced with a situation where one is at a loss to understand whether the final authority in determining contempt of court and its implications rests with the highest judicial authority in the land or the Speaker of the lower house. Dr Fehmida Mirza’s ruling presents the following argument for not forwarding the Prime Minister’s case to the Election Commission. “I am of the view that the charges against Yousuf Raza Gilani are not relatable to the grounds mentioned in paragraph (g) or (h) of Clause (1) of Article 63; therefore, no question of his disqualification from being a member arises under Clause (2) of Article 63 of the Constitution.
While feeling hurt at the letter written by the Assistant Registrar of the Supreme Court to the Speaker, Dr Mirza, in fact, betrays ignorance of normal procedure followed in government offices, where even a Section Officer is authorised to issue orders on behalf of the President of the country. The space given to it in the text of her ruling, in any case, suggests that the argument has been needlessly stretched at the cost of the point at issue. The Speaker’s ruling will most likely prompt some concerned citizen to file a petition in the Supreme Court. It is not yet the end.