Democracy is dead. Long live the prime minister – Pakistan

It is unprecedented for a chairman to intervene in the 342 members of the House of Representatives to carry out his will.

The vice-chairman’s actions in the National Assembly on Sunday may have weakened the opposition’s attempts to oust current Prime Minister Imran Khan, but it put the country in another constitutional crisis. This is a sign of a complete breakdown of the conversation. Parliamentary forces – communication between the Ministry of Finance and the opposition.

This malfunction is rekindling the legislativeization of politics, where parliamentary proceedings are now underway in the Supreme Court. The court had to enforce Article 95 dealing with a vote of no confidence in the prime minister, and the powers of the chairman (already provided under Rule 37 and the second asterisk of the NA Rules of Business) were subject to motion on adjudication. Conversely, the chairman may decide that he has the right to dismiss the motion.

The three-member SC bench, which started the suo motu procedure hours after Sunday’s NA meeting, has already decided that all orders and actions initiated by the Prime Minister and the President in connection with the dissolution of the National Assembly will be subject to the court’s order.

The court also asked the Pakistan Attorney General to help with the constitutionality issue of the Chairman’s decision to invoke Article 5 and dismiss a pending application in Parliament. The larger tribunal, which will take on the case today, will now consider whether the Chairman has the power to interpret Article 5 and invoke it at his discretion.

everyone is a traitor

Where Article 5(1) provides a subjective criterion such as “loyalty”, Article 5(2) provides an objective test to demonstrate that loyalty.

The latter subsection requires all citizens, especially public officials and those whose roles are defined in the Constitution, to ensure that the framework of the Constitution is observed and in practice guarantees the loyalty referred to in Article 5(1).

The role and powers of the chairman are well defined as the roles and powers of members of the National Assembly, including voting rights.

If the chairman wanted to show allegiance to the country, he should have adhered to the constitutional mandate and allowed the NSC’s findings to be discussed during the discussion of the motion of no confidence. He was able to make sure that all honorable lawmakers are aware of this issue and the government’s concerns.

However, regardless of the Treasury’s assertion, opposition lawmakers can vote as they see fit. Chairman Lee violated Article 5(2) by depriving the National Assembly member who was elected yesterday the constitutional right to vote.

When the Speaker of the House rejected the no-confidence bill, he basically declared it to be part of a foreign conspiracy, which in turn prosecuted 86 MNAs that submitted the bill to the House on March 8. Should they now lose their party status? to these procedures?

The strange thing is that Sunday’s entire NA process relied on the results of a National Security Council investigation that didn’t even mention a no-confidence vote in the press release. It is stated only that the language used in the communications or the received cables showed that foreign powers had “blatant interference in Pakistan’s internal affairs”.

Additionally, the press release said the prime minister would convene a parliamentary camera session to involve all lawmakers regarding the content of the cable. That session was not called.

What’s more, the newly appointed federal law minister stood up and demanded a verdict, and the chair read a pre-written memo instead of taking the time to deliberate. Rather than representing the National Assembly, the Speaker and Vice-Chairman represented the executive branch and played a role in carrying out the will of the government.

By the way, whose side is the chairman on?

It should not be overlooked that the chairman must be nonpartisan, that is, he is a representative of the legislative branch and not the executive branch. As custodian of the House of Representatives, his job is to conduct a debate on the proposition made in this case, and then, after hearing the debate, allow members to exercise their discretion and vote for or against the proposition.

But it is unprecedented for the Speaker of the House to intervene and enforce his will on the 342 odd-numbered members of the House.

A similar feat was attempted in the Balochistan parliament in 1989, when the governor, in the face of a vote of no confidence, dissolved the parliament on the advice of the prime minister. Then, when the courts intervened, they ruled that the governor should insist on voting.

Similarly, in the 2017 Imran Khan v Mian Nawaz Sharif case (the infamous Panama case), the SC found that certain judgments of the Chairman could be justified and that “where the Chairman’s decision is legally or factually incorrect” the Court held that: Jurisdictions may intervene to establish record rights.

In this case, it would be wise for the SC to apply Article 95 of the Constitution and return the time to Sunday, when the vote on the measure is scheduled, to enforce the Constitution as-is.

What you should not do is try to find a way to make exceptions within the Constitution, which will raise questions about the certainty of the constitution’s interpretation. These exceptions have been made in the past and have only damaged the Supreme Court’s legacy.

If the dissolution of Parliament is considered a valid act and the Supreme Court recognizes it as such, it is in effect recognizing the proceedings carried out by the Chairman who overruled the consent, and the Prime Minister may again authorize the President to recommend dissolution. . assembly.

Another problem is that by doing so, now the prime minister and opposition leaders are directed by the president to each submit a name for the interim regime.

next?

The Constitution permits the President to temporarily grant special powers to the Prime Minister to continue in office after the National Assembly is dissolved.

This interim period is defined by Articles 224 and 224(A), which provide that the leader of the opposition and the Prime Minister must, together with the President, agree on the nomination of an interim Prime Minister within three days. If they do not do so, the chairman must immediately form eight members (four each from the opposition and the Ministry of Finance), sending the names of the prime minister and the opposition leader two each.

The committee has three days to consider the name, otherwise the name will be sent to the Pakistan Election Commission and a name must be decided within two days.

Considering the transition period, it can be expected that the interim prime minister will take office in about two weeks from now.

The bigger problem, however, is that the opposition has overtaken the president’s actions and challenged the vice president’s actions that he has allowed. For the opposition, this is nothing more than treason. Therefore, they are unlikely to be part of any consultations on the election of an interim prime minister.

This, in turn, will create a constitutional stalemate and invite the Supreme Court to intervene in the search for a name for the interim setting.

For now, all eyes are on the Supreme Court’s five-member system, which is in charge of the suo motu case today. Whatever they decide, the consequences of yesterday’s vice-chairman’s act will be felt for months if not years.

The biggest victim in all of this is the Constitution, but at least the Prime Minister remains.

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