| Welcome to Global Village Space

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Burying the constitution of Pakistan

The Punjab Assembly deputy speaker’s ruling on the election of the Chief Minister for rejection of PML-Q’s votes is not according to the constitution 1973. This may be challenged in a court of law and the court’s decision would be final.

Once again, a deputy speaker of a legislature buries the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 with enthusiasm. On the 22nd of July 2022, Punjab Legislative Assembly was to conduct an election for the Chief Minister of Punjab according to the orders issued by the honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan. On the day of the election, the session of the assembly commenced late due to unknown reasons. Anyhow election was conducted peacefully but the announcement of the result spoiled the peace.

According to the count, Hamza Shehbaz, a joint nominee of PMLN and PPP, secured 179 votes, while Parveiz Elahi the joint candidate from PTI and PML-Q got 186 votes. Deputy Speaker, according to his announcement, received a letter from the head of the Party of PML-Q, Shujjat Hussain, which (the letter) says that the members of PML-Q are directed to vote for Hamza Shehbaz in the election of Chief Minister. On the basis of this letter, the deputy speaker found the members of PMLQ voting for Parveiz Elahi defected from the party’s ruling and annulled their votes. Resultantly, Hamza was declared the winner with 179 votes and Parveiz Illahi looser with 176 votes.

Read more: Constitutional amendment for Gullu Butt

Understanding the matter better

Ill luck to the country, whose mother law, the constitution, is violated flagrantly yet enthusiastically in the ruling of the deputy speaker. The major provision which is cruelly buried is 63A (1) (b) of the constitution. Article 63A (1) says, “ If a member of a Parliamentary Party composed of a single political party in a House”; clause (b), “ votes or abstains from voting in the House contrary to any direction issued by the Parliamentary Party to which he belongs”. The article goes on as, “he may be declared in writing by the Party Head to have defected from the political party….”.

Now, according to clause (b) of 63A (1) ‘Parliamentary Party’ has the mandate to decide to which candidate its members are to vote. This is not the power of the ‘head of the Party’ if he is not a member of the Parliamentary Party because the ‘Parliamentary Party’ consists of those members who are part of the legislature. The power of the head of the party comes afterward when defection from the decision of the Parliamentary Party has been committed.

In the case in hand, the deputy speaker bestows the power of ‘Parliamentary Party’ to the ‘Head of Party’ who is not a member of the legislature. On the other hand, the decision of the Parliamentary Party of PML-Q is completely ignored. In nutshell, the votes of PML-Q are rejected without any legal justification. Unfortunately, the tradition of constitutional burial has been adopted by our legislature which has long been common in other institutions throughout Pakistan’s history. Since 2008, other institutions have apparently shown self-imposed restraint regarding the abrogation of the constitution; meanwhile, legislatures are trying to fulfill that gap. On April 3, 2022, the then deputy speaker of the National Assembly violated the constitution and did not conduct a vote of confidence which was his prior duty. He was declaring his announcement with great enthusiasm so did the deputy speaker of the Punjab Assembly.

Read more: Delays in Hamza’s oath against scheme of the Constitution: LHC

There is a grave repercussion of constitutional violations, especially by the legislators. First of all, these behaviors weaken democracy and provide an opportunity to non-democratic forces to intervene. Secondly, the losers find themselves helpless and they come to revolutions against the system. Thirdly, the soft image of the country is tarnished. And fourthly, it creates political and economic uncertainty.

The ultimate losers are institutions, the country and the people

The last hope is the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Judiciary is the protector of the constitution in constitutional democracies. In his book ‘A History of Judiciary in Pakistan’ Hamid Khan writes that Pakistan’s judiciary could not fulfill its responsibility of being the protector of the constitution by approving Marshal Laws three times in history except in ‘Asma Jilani case’. But the course has been changed since 2008.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan annulled the emergency imposed by the then president of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf in 2007. The court also annulled the unconstitutional ruling of the previous deputy speaker of the National Assembly in its suo moto case no.1 of 2022. Once again, all eyes would be on Supreme Court as the aggrieved party may bring the case to the court if the court does not initiate suo moto action under Article 184(3) of the constitution.

Read more: Explainer: Articles of Pakistan’s Constitution under discussion

Summing up the whole discussion, the Punjab Assembly deputy speaker’s ruling on the election of the Chief Minister for rejection of PML-Q’s votes is not according to the constitution 1973. This may be challenged in a court of law and the court’s decision would be final. However, considering the mother law of the land which is a sacred agreement between the people and the state a mere piece of paper and burying it in cruel manners will destabilize our country. If we will not learn from our history of violating the agreements between the people and the state, the history of disintegration would repeat itself.



The writer has done MA in political science from Punjab University. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.