Islamabad: Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Wednesday sought minutes of the National Security Council meeting from the government as it adjourned till Thursday the hearing of the crucial case about rejection of the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan through a controversial ruling by the deputy speaker of the National Assembly.
National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri on Sunday ruled that the no-confidence motion was linked with a “foreign conspiracy” to topple the government and hence was not maintainable. Minutes later, President Arif Alvi dissolved the National Assembly on advice of Prime Minister Khan.
The apex court within hours took suo motu notice of it and a five-member Bench started hearing the case on Monday. The Bench is headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial and includes Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar, Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail.
During the third day of the hearing on Wednesday, Babar Awan appeared for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and Ali Zafar represented President Alvi.
Chief Justice Bandial asked Awan about the minutes of the recent meeting of the National Security Council which had discussed a letter purportedly showing evidence of a foreign conspiracy to oust the PTI-led government.
During the hearing, Justice Bandial questioned the basis on which the Deputy Speaker issued the ruling, Dawn newspaper reported.
“Can the speaker announce such a ruling without presenting the facts,” he asked, adding that this was the constitutional point on which the court had to make a decision.
He also asked Awan to inform the court whether the Deputy Speaker could issue a ruling that was not on the day’s agenda by bypassing Article 95. He told the PTI counsel to defend the ruling with “solid” evidence.
“Where are the minutes of the NSC meeting?” he asked Awan, also asking the PTI counsel about the basis on Suri exercised his authority.
After Awan, Zafar began his arguments, insisting that any direction from the court on the matter of the deputy speaker’s ruling would exceed its jurisdiction.
Pakistan Peoples Party lawyer Raza Rabbani and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan have already completed arguments.
However, Naeem Bokhari, counsel of deputy speaker Qasim Suri, and Attorney General Khaled Javed Khan, representing the government, are among the lawyers who have not yet presented their views on the case.
During the hearing on Wednesday, the chief justice repeatedly reminded the lawyers to conclude their arguments at the earliest to let the bench issue an order.
However, since the process was not completed, the court adjourned the case till Thursday while announcing to resume the hearing at 9:30am (local time). A short order may be issued at the conclusion of the arguments.
Earlier, the opposition lawyers during the hearing had asked the court to issue at the earliest an order to settle the matter regarding the ruling.
The bench assured to come up with a verdict after hearing lawyers representing the government and the opposition.
The outcome will not only decide the fate of no-confidence but also the dissolution of the National Assembly and the upcoming elections.
If Khan gets a favourable ruling, elections will take place within 90 days. If the court rules against the deputy speaker, Parliament will reconvene and hold the no-confidence vote against Khan, experts said.
The prevailing crisis began to unfold after the opposition submitted a no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister on March 8. The voting was scheduled to be held on April 3 but the deputy speaker rejected the motion, saying it was part of a “conspiracy” to topple an elected government. PTI