Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on Thursday filed a review petition in the top court against the verdict on the presidential reference for the interpretation of Article 63(A) of the Constitution which deals with defection of the lawmakers from their party.
On May 17, the Supreme Court held, by a majority of two-three, that Article 63(A) of the Constitution protects the fundamental rights of a parliamentary party rather than its members and ruled against counting of a vote of a lawmaker against the party line.
As a result, 20 Punjab Assembly lawmakers of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) were de-seated as they had voted for PML-N’s Hamza Shehbaz in the election for Punjab chief minister.
The petitioner Anis Muhammad Shahzad made Federation and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) respondents in the petition.
The petitioner maintained that the interpretation of Article 63(A) in the Supreme Court’s verdict was not in accord with the letter and spirit as well as the system of parliamentary democracy established by the Constitution.
“Disregarding of defecting votes was first incorporated into our constitutional framework at the time of the commencement of the Constitution, in terms of the erstwhile Article 96. Subsequently, this was substituted vide the Revival of Constitution of 1973 Order, 1985, read with the Constitution (Eighth) Amendment Act, 1985. Article 63A was inserted in 1997, which expressly provided for de-seating of defecting members and placed no other limitation on the right of members of the Parliament to cast their votes in parliamentary proceedings, including a vote of no-confidence against a Prime Minister. Since the insertion of Article 63A, it has been amended twice – in 2002 and 2010. However, the Parliament has consciously opted not to include any provision allowing for votes to be disregarded on account of defection.”
The application maintained that the historical background and evolution of the said Article were ignored by the court in its final opinion, maintaining that the verdict was unconstitutional and analogous to interference in the Constitution.
SCBA pleaded with the apex court to review its verdict on the presidential reference.