|Speaker rules out PM’s disqualification|
25 May 2012
ISLAMABAD - To much anticipation of the opposition, National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza Thursday decided not to send the reference against Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), a move that could lead to another legal confrontation between the state institutions and fuel political tension in the country.
“I am of the view that the charges against Yousuf Raza Gilani are not relatable to the grounds mentioned in paragraph (g) or (h) of Clause (1) of Article 63; therefore, no question of his disqualification from being a member arises under Clause (2) of Article 63 of the Constitution,” she said in a five-page ruling issued by the National Assembly Secretariat.
She said, “On prima-facie, no specific charge regarding the propagation of any opinion or acting in any manner against the independence of the judiciary or defaming or ridiculing the judiciary as contemplated under Article 63 (1) (g) has been framed.” She cited in the ruling that on April 30, her office had received a reference under Clause (2) of Article 63 by Maulvi Iqbal Haider, praying for referring the question of disqualification of Yousuf Raza Gilani to the ECP.
He contended that the Supreme Court of Pakistan had disqualified the prime minister from being a member of the National Assembly due to his conviction under the Contempt of Court Law.
The speaker expressed serious concerns regarding the letters through which the Supreme Court assistant registrar, while writing for the registrar, addressed directly to the speaker and separately conveyed the short order and the detailed judgment of the apex court.
According to Fehmida, she holds a constitutional position and is an elected head of the house and guardian of the rights of 342 members of the country, representing the will of the people of Pakistan.
“In view of the above, the office of the speaker demands the highest respect from other organs of the state and functionaries of the government. The contents of the letters are in bad taste and also against the parliamentary norms and traditions,” Fehmida remarked in her ruling.
The speaker stated that she had gone through the said reference application, the short order and detailed judgment and relevant provisions of the Constitution and the Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003. Fehmida cited the case of former MNA Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, who was convicted by a sessions judge in 2004 and was sentenced to 19-year imprisonment.
After Hashmi filed three separate nomination papers as a candidate for the leader of the house, the government raised objection, stating that he had been disqualified after conviction for propagating and defaming the armed forces.
However, the then National Assembly speaker overruled the objection and accepted the nomination papers, while the NA Secretariat made all arrangements for ascertainment of the leader of the house out of the two contesting candidates — Citing the very ruling of the former speaker, Fehmida said the charges against Gilani were not relatable so, no question of his disqualification from being a member arose.
“The letters of the assistant registrar for registrar of the Supreme Court stands answered accordingly. Furthermore, the petition of Maulvi Iqbal Haider Advocate, being without any merit, is not maintainable and accordingly rejected,” the speaker ruled. She cited a case titled Kanwar Intizar Muhammad Khan vs Federation of Pakistan and others that the speaker while examining a reference under Article 63 (2) of the Constitution is not supposed to act merely as post office.
“The speaker has to apply his own mind judiciously after fully taking into consideration the relevant provisions on the subject and then decide as to whether any question in the nature of disqualification has arisen which may justify the making of reference to the chief election commissioner.” The Supreme Court, in a suo motu case, had given a short order on April 26, whereby the prime minister was punished under Section 5 of Contempt of Court Ordinance, 2003 (Ordinance V of 2003) with imprisonment till the rising of the court, while the detailed judgment was released on the 5th of this month.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has warned that if the government did not follow the court orders for implementation, emergency might be imposed for nearing rule of law in the state. It is expected that the prime minister’s counsel Aitzaz Ahsan will file an appeal against the Supreme Court’s verdict in the contempt of court case today (Friday).
Agencies add: Fehmida said the provision of Clause (2) of Article 72 of the Constitution conferred the privilege upon the speaker to preside over a joint sitting of the Parliament, comprising 446 members. “She may often require to perform the functions of the President of Pakistan under Article 49,” she remarked.
According to the ruling, the speaker is placed in Article 2 of Warrant of Precedence. Fehmida said in view of the above, the office of the speaker demanded the highest respect from other organs of the state and the government functionaries.
“The contents of the letters are in bad taste and also against the parliamentary norms and traditions,” the speaker commented. Legal experts are giving tremendous importance to the five-page decision composed by the speaker. They say the real intentions of the government have come on surface after the decision taken by the speaker and the already tense relations between the government and the Supreme Court will further aggravate. The experts reviewing the issue from an objective point of view are of the opinion that it is clear-cut violation of the orders of the apex court, which is the virtual guarantor of the human rights and rule of
Earlier, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had warned that if the government did not follow the court orders for implementation, emergency might be imposed for nearing rule of law in the state.
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