n Tarar says PML-N respects judiciary n Rejects party running campaign against institutions.

LAHORE/Islamabad   -   Federal Minister for Law Azam Nazir Tarar Sunday demanded of the Supreme Court of Pakistan that a larger bench or full court should hear the case of deputy speaker’s ruling in respect of Punjab chief minister’s election along with the review petition of the Supreme Court Bar Association about interpretation of Article 63-A of the Constitution.

Addressing a joint press conference along with Punjab Home Minister Attaullah Tarar, the federal law minister said that chief justice should assign its hearing to a full bench as it was an issue concerning the elected chief minister of 120 million people of Punjab.

“The Supreme Court Bar and the civil society have demanded that the hearing of these cases should be held together by the full court. Prominent lawyers including Latif Afridi, Yasin Azad, Fazal Haq Abbas, Qalb-e-Hussain and Ahsan Bhoon have also termed it a serious and sensitive issue which was taken up earlier by 8-member and 5-member benches”, he maintained.

Azam Nazir said that political circumstances had reached such a point that several constitutional issues needed to be resolved.

Rejecting the allegations about any campaign against the institutions, the federal minister made it clear that the PML-N respected the institutions including the judiciary. “People know full well which party is an expert in trending or launching campaigns against the national and constitutional institutions”, he remarked.

He alleged that a private channel was developing a baseless perception against the PML-N that it was running a campaign against the courts.

Giving background of the deputy speaker’s ruling, he said that the president of Pakistan had sent a reference to the Supreme Court for interpretation of Article 63-A before voting on a no-confidence motion against the then prime minister Imran Khan with the pleas that votes cast against the directions of the party head should not be counted.

The SC did not give a stay order and the proceedings of no-confidence were completed, he added. “Later, during election of the Punjab chief minister, the split 3-2 judgment was given that the votes cast against the directions of the party leader would not be counted, and, consequently, 25 votes cast in favour of Hamza Shehbaz were not counted. On Friday, in the run-off election for the Punjab chief minister slot, the votes of 10 members of the PML-Q, who had cast their votes against the directions of the party head, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, were not counted, in the light of the apex court verdict”, he explained.

Punjab Home Minister Attaullah Tarar said that it was a tradition that sensitive constitutional cases were heard by the full court to end confusion once and for all. He said that the letter of PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujat Hussain was not yet presented before the court, which was directly written to his members.

He said that previously, votes of 25 MPAs were not counted by declaring them against the directions of the party head, whereas the direction had been issued by Asad Umar, PTI’s secretary general, on behalf of his party chairman.

“In the current situation, the letter was written directly by the party head, but questions are raised about it,” he added.

To a question, the federal law minister clarified that today’s (Sunday) press conference was being organised to clear the position of the PML-N and to curb rumours against the party.

To another question, he said that the apex court did not bar Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz from formation of his cabinet, as it was a constitutional obligation to run the government.

Responding to a question about de-seating of the PML-Q members, he said it was their internal matter and Ch Shujaat Hussain could make a decision in that regard.

Meanwhile, The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on Sunday demanded of  the Supreme Court of Pakistan to constitute full court bench to hear its review petition regarding interpretation of Article 63-A.

In this regard, SCBA president Muhammad Ahsan Bhoon issued a statement saying that once again, the debate over the interpretation of Article 63- A(1)b in the country, (a matter purely related to the understanding of the Constitution), has been ignited. He called upon the Supreme Court (SC) to take up the already filed review petition by the SCBA, against the short judgment passed by the apex Court, on 17th May, 2022, in Presidential Reference No 01 of 2022, so as to culminate the controversy, and to restore the confidence of the public at large, on the constitutional and democratic system.

While referring to the SC’s short order dated 17.05.2022, the SCBA president stated, “It was not a unanimous decision; rather it was a split decision by (3-2) majority, which proves that there are certain touchstones that needed to be addressed.”   He demanded that the bench comprising   full court be constituted, so as to reach conclusive interpretation and to maintain the confidence of public as well as of the political parties.

Bhoon underlined that it is the right time for the apex court to take up the pending petition of the SCBA and to decide the matter for once and all, so that no one dares to point the finger towards the apex court.

The SCBA president observed that had the review petition   filed by the SCBA  been heard or taken up by the court, the recent controversy arising over the interpretation of Article 63-A(1)b, (during the course of election of Punjab chief minister) may have been avoided.

He maintained that the SCBA, alongside the overwhelming majority of the legal fraternity, is of the opinion that the interpretation of Article 63(A) pertaining to the treatment of dissidents, is against the norms of natural justice, hence requires thorough and detailed debate.

He also called upon all the political parties to refrain from making the orders of the apex court controversial, and let the court interpret the constitutional matters.