SCBA moves SC for review of opinion on Article 63-A

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on Thursday filed a review petition in the apex court, seeking review of the court’s May 17 decision on the interpretation of Article 63-A.

The SCBA named the Federal Government and the Election Commission as parties in the review petition. The petitioner took the stance that the Supreme Court’s interpretation in paragraphs one to three of its order was not in accordance with the letter and spirit, as well as the system of parliamentary democracy, established by the Constitution.

It prayed that opinion should be withdrawn by reviewing the paragraph regarding non-counting of votes of dissident members.

The opinion of the Supreme Court was tantamount to interfering in the constitution as according to Article 63-A, dissident members would be de-seated only, it added.

On May 17, the apex court declared by a majority verdict of three to two that votes cast by legislators in violation of their party’s stance must not be taken into account while determining the outcome of a motion since Article 63-A of the Constitution was meant to protect the fundamental rights of a parliamentary party, and not those of defectors.

In its petition, the SCBA said that in reaching the conclusion that the votes of defecting lawmakers were not to be counted, the “historical background and evolution of Article 63-A … had escaped the honourable court’s attention”.

In this connection, the petition shared provisions of the Political Parties Act, which it said provided for the disqualification of lawmakers prior to the Constitution.

It also mentioned Article 96 of the Constitution, which the petition said provided for disregarding votes of defecting lawmakers for the first time. It was later replaced by Article 95, which omitted the clause for disregarding defecting votes.

Eventually, Article 63-A was inserted in the Constitution, the petition said, as it went on to elaborate on the provision.

“It is clear from the above, disregarding of defective votes was first incorporated into our constitutional framework at the time of commencement of the Constitution, in terms of the erstwhile Article 96,” the petition read.

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