‘Major win for democracy’: Supreme Court restores National Assembly

    In what has been termed as a major win for democracy and constitutional supremacy in the country, the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Thursday ruled that the decision to block the vote of no-confidence against Prime Minister Imran Khan was unconstitutional, with legislators now set to vote on Saturday.

    The court, in its short order, ruled that the deputy speaker’s ruling was “contrary to the Constitution and the law and of no legal effect, and the same are hereby set aside”.

    The apex court ruled that President Dr Arif Alvi’s decision to dissolve the National Assembly was also “contrary to the Constitution and the law and of no legal effect”, noting that the prime minister could not have advised the president to dissolve the assembly as he continues to remain under the bar imposed under clause (1) of Article 58 of the Constitution.

    “It is further declared that the [National] Assembly was in existence at all times, and continues to remain and be so,” the short order reads.

    The court’s verdict restored the prime minister and his cabinet in their position. “In consequence of the foregoing, it is declared that the prime minister and federal ministers, ministers of state, advisers, etc stand restored to their respective offices.”

    The apex court also ordered for the session of the National Assembly to reconvene on Saturday no later than 10:30 am, saying that the session cannot be prorogued without the conclusion of the no-trust motion against PM Imran.

    “The deputy speaker gave a ruling on April 3. Leave was granted on the no-confidence motion on March 28. The ruling of the speaker is declared unconstitutional,” Justice Bandial declared.

    The chief justice said the verdict was announced with a unanimous agreement of 5-0 after the judges consulted each other. “The current issues are done away with,” he said.

    The verdict said that the government could not interfere in the participation of any MNA in the assembly session.

    The court stated that the current order would not impact the proceedings under Article 63 of the Constitution.

    “It is, however, clarified that nothing in this short order shall affect the operation of Article 63A of the Constitution and consequences thereof in relation to any member of the Assembly if he votes on the Resolution or (if such be the case) the election of a Prime Minister thereafter in such manner as is tantamount to his defection from the political party to which he belongs within the meaning of the said Article,” the verdict reads.

    Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif, while talking to the media after the verdict, said the court had “definitely fulfilled the people’s expectations”.

    PPP leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said Supreme Court’s verdict was a “victory for democracy and the Constitution”.

    “Pakistan’s institutions and its Constitution have been safeguarded. God willing, the process of no confidence will now be completed and we will conduct electoral reforms and head towards clean and transparent elections,” he said.

    Bilawal said where Pakistan’s history was replete with “controversial decisions”, the verdict given by the Supreme Court today would be written in “golden words”.

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