‘Unconstitutional’ dissolution of Assembly by President amounts to treason: Supreme Court

View of the Supreme Court building (left) and President Arif Alvi.  - app/file
View of the Supreme Court building (left) and President Arif Alvi. – app/file
  • Consequences of constitutional violation are far reaching: Top judge.
  • It is said that God willing, elections will definitely be held on February 8.
  • CJP says that the courts have also been entangled in unnecessary cases.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Supreme Court has said the President’s “unconstitutional dissolution” of the assembly after filing a no-confidence motion against the chief executive amounts to treason.

The top court made the remarks while hearing several petitions seeking timely elections within 90 days of the dissolution of the assemblies. A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Qazi Faiz Isa and comprising Justices Athar Minallah and Justice Amin-ud-din Khan heard the case.

In April last year, President Dr Arif Alvi had dissolved the National Assembly under Article 58 of the Constitution on the advice of then Prime Minister Imran Khan.

According to a statement issued by the Presidential Secretariat on Twitter, formerly known as Twitter: “The President of Pakistan, Dr. Arif Alvi, accepts the advice of the Prime Minister of Pakistan to dissolve the National Assembly under Article 58(1) Approved. With Article 48(1) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.”

The development occurred after then National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri – who was presiding over the day’s session – rejected the no-confidence motion against Khan before the motion could be voted on in the House. Suri termed the “no-confidence motion” a foreign conspiracy, commenting that it contradicts Article 5 of the Constitution, which says loyalty to the state is the fundamental duty of every citizen.

After hearing arguments from all parties, CJP Isa said in his order: “The consequences of every constitutional violation are grave and far-reaching. Whose impact is felt even today.”

The order said that every constitutional violation has a serious impact not only on the people of Pakistan but also on the region. “The courts have also been bogged down in unnecessary cases.”

Referring to the removal of former PM Khan from the post, the court highlighted the importance of the Constitution.

It said that recently a Prime Minister was removed through a no-confidence motion. “The Constitution is clear that a majority of the members of the Assembly can pass a no-confidence motion.”

The order said that after the no-confidence motion, a political crisis arose in the country, after which the apex court took cognizance of it.

“The President dissolved the National Assembly after the no-confidence motion was moved, which was an unconstitutional act,” the order said. It highlighted that the President cannot do this on the instructions of the Prime Minister.

“People cannot be kept away from elected representatives,” the order said.

The court said, “Dissolving the Assembly in an unconstitutional manner comes in the category of treason.” “Constitutional institutions can take important decisions only in the interest of the people.”

It was hoped that all constitutional institutions would show understanding in the future.

The order noted that the President did not have the power to dissolve the Assembly, but he did so even though he did not exercise his power to appoint an election date.

The court noted that notification of the general election date has also been issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), stating that no party has any objection to holding the elections on February 8.

During the proceedings, CJP Isa asked everyone present in the courtroom as well as Attorney-General of Pakistan Mansoor Usman Awan if they had any objection to the election date, but everyone replied in the negative.

“The Election Commission should announce the election schedule after all the requirements are met,” CJP Isa said.

The Chief Justice said, “God willing, elections will definitely be held on February 8.”

After pronouncing the order, the Chief Justice said that if the media creates doubts about the elections then it would be guilty of violating the Constitution.

“If any channel runs a ticker casting doubt on the conduct of elections, action will be taken. If any media house creates confusion regarding the elections then the ECP will file a complaint with the regulatory body,” CJP Isa said.

He ordered, “If there is doubt in anyone’s mind, let it be, but do not influence the public.”

CJP Isa said he hoped the elections would be peaceful without parties insulting their opponents and disposed of the petitions.

Earlier, the AGP told the court that the President had given the date after his meeting with CEC Raja and a notification in this regard has also been issued.

“If everyone is happy, we have no objection. The Election Commission and all parties are in agreement,” the Chief Justice said, adding that all members unanimously agreed on the date but did not mention any constitutional provision.

In the order the Chief Justice also invoked Section 48 Section 5 and Section 57 (1) of the Election Act.

The Supreme Court noted that the ECP did not respond to the President’s letter.

“Every institution including the ECP and the President is bound to implement the Constitution. Non-adherence to the Constitution will have serious consequences,” the order said.

The court said that the election issue was to be resolved between the President and the ECP, which was unnecessarily brought to the Supreme Court.

“If the President needed advice, he could have approached the Supreme Court under Article 187. Several petitions were filed, so the court heard the case,” it said.

The order said the apex court was fully aware of the constitutional limitations, but noted that the entire country was worried as elections were not being announced.

The court said it did not interfere with the powers of the ECP or constitutional institutions like the President.

“Every constitutional institution must follow the Constitution. No constitutional body has the option to deviate from the Constitution,” the order said, adding that the court has only played the role of a facilitator between the President and the Commission.

The Supreme Court in its order also declared that the President and the ECP should remain within their jurisdiction. The court said, “Being the highest constitutional post, the responsibility of the President is greater.” He said that no institution can claim to be ignorant of the Constitution.

Further, the Chief Justice asked the ECP counsel whether the election authority has issued any election schedule.

“The election schedule will be announced after the constituencies are delimited,” the lawyer replied.

He said the delimitation process would be completed on November 30, while the schedule would be announced in the first week of December.

The Chief Justice remarked, the date of election schedule should be released for the people to stay updated.

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