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HomeNationalDissenting lawmakers cannot cast votes against party directives: SC

Dissenting lawmakers cannot cast votes against party directives: SC

Supreme Court says Article 63-A cannot be interpreted on its own

The Supreme Court has ruled that dissident members cannot cast votes against directives given by their parliamentary party.

The apex court delivered its verdict on the presidential reference seeking interpretation of Article 63-A of the constitution, saying that Article 63-A could not be interpreted on its own.

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A five-member larger bench, led by CJ Bandial, and consisting of Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan, Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel, Justice Muneeb Akhtar and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel, concluded the hearing of the case. The chief justice, along with Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan and Justice Muneeb Akhtar, passed the majority decision that dissidents’ votes could not be counted. While Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel opposed the decision.

In its verdict, the court said that Article 63-A acts to “protect, and ensure the continued coherence of, political parties in the legislative arena”. It added that defections can delegitimize parliamentary democracy itself. The verdict said that between the party and the individual, the former must take precedence.

The apex court said that a lawmaker’s vote cast against party directions cannot be considered and must be rejected. “This is so regardless of whether the party head, subsequent to such vote, proceeds to take, or refrains from taking, an action that would result in a declaration of defection,” said the verdict.

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Regarding the questions seeking dissident’s disqualification for life, the SC rejected Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s plea, adding that the matter can be dealt by appropriate lawmaking by the parliament.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial on Monday announced that the Supreme Court intended to wind up the presidential reference that seeks interpretation on the Article 63(A) of the constitution on Tuesday.

During the hearing, Attorney General of Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz lawyer Makhdoom Ali Khan asked the court for an extension in order to complete their arguments.

However, the CJ rejected the request remarking that the court intended to make a decision on the case.

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