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CJP heads larger bench to hear presidential reference, SCBA plea

One judge selected from each province to hear reference and petition simultaneously

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Umar Ata Bandial will head the five-member larger bench formed by the Supreme Court to hear the presidential reference seeking its opinion on Article 63-A of the constitution and the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) petition regarding the court’s insurance of law and order ahead of voting on the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The larger bench will have a judge from each province – Justice Ijazul Ahsan from Punjab, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Justice Munib Akhtar from Sindh and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail from Balochistan.

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According to the supplementary cause list, the hearing of the presidential reference and the SCBA’s petition will be held at 1 pm tomorrow (Thursday).

Notices for the hearing have been issued to Pakistan Tehreek-r-Insaf (PTI) lawyer Ali Zafar, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) lawyer Farooq H Naek, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawyer Makhdoom Ali Khan and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) lawyer Kamran Murtaza, as well as the advocate general of Sindh, Islamabad inspector general of police, interior secretary and the SCBA president, among others.

According to the written order of the apex court’s hearing held on Monday, the SCBA’s lawyer, as well as the counsels for opposition parties, expressed “strong reservations and concerns” that the National Assembly speaker summoned the assembly session for the no-confidence motion on March 25, which was beyond the stipulated period of 14 days.

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However, the court maintained that it was “not inclined to take up this matter, as it is collateral to the questions of constitutional interpretation raised before the court”, including the reference filed by President Dr Arif Alvi. It furthered that for such matters the constitution “envisages a remedy before Parliament itself”. The attorney general of Pakistan made a “categorical statement” before the court that the federal government would not “hinder or obstruct, or interfere with” any members of the NA (including those of PTI) who wish to attend the no-confidence motion session, and to participate in and cast their votes on the resolution.

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