The final word?: Speaker refuses to disqualify PM

Published: May 25, 2012

NA Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza decides against forwarding SC's reference to election commission. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

Two days before the possible expiry of a 30-day deadline to decide on the fate of the prime minister, the National Assembly speaker dismissed bids to disqualify Yousaf Raza Gilani following his conviction by the Supreme Court in a contempt case last month.

“No question of disqualification of Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani from being a member arises under clause (2) of Article 63 of the Constitution,” Dr Fehmida Mirza, who is also a member of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, said in her five-page ruling released on Thursday.

The speaker refused to send a reference against the premier to the Election Commission, and dismissed a court order and a subsequent petition that sought his disqualification.

“I am of the view that the charges against Yousaf Raza Gilani are not relatable to the grounds mentioned in paragraph (g) or (h) of clause (1) of Article 63. The letters of the Assistant Registrar (IMP) 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 ruling stated.

The decision had already triggered a fresh constitutional and legal debate in the country, whereby the ruling PPP is set to stand firm in its stance that parliament is the supreme institution and this ruling cannot be challenged at any other forum.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Gilani called the speaker’s decision a “victory for democracy”.

“Today, for the first time in the history of Pakistan, democracy has won and the speaker ruled in my favour,” he told a ceremony in Islamabad.

However, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, opposition leader in the National Assembly from the main opposition party Pakistan Muslim League-N, rejected the decision and told reporters that the speaker “has not done justice”.

References

On April 26, a seven-member bench of the Supreme Court convicted Prime Minister Gilani on contempt of court charges over his refusal to write a letter to the Swiss authorities asking them to open graft charges against President Asif Ali Zardari. Following the short order, a detailed verdict was issued on May 8. The court, through official channels, conveyed both orders to the NA speaker.

Advocate Maulvi Iqbal Haider also moved an application to the speaker’s office pleading that the case be sent to the ECP.

Before touching on the legal question of the premier’s disqualification on Thursday, the speaker indirectly castigated the Supreme Court, not only for the contents of the references, but also for sending them through a deputy registrar, calling it “in bad taste” and “against parliamentary norms and traditions”.

Mirza substantiates decision

Since there was no clear-cut direction on whether the premier’s conviction entailed disqualification or not, legal experts had divergent views.

Some constitutional experts were of opinion that since the decision came from the highest court, the speaker had no other option but to refer the matter to the ECP, which, under the law, takes decisions to de-seat any elected member.

However, the government contested that the speaker can take an independent decision to accept or reject any reference filed against a member of the National Assembly before forwarding it to the election authority. To substantiate her decision, the speaker gave references from the past to establish the fact that she was empowered to take a final decision.

She referred to the case of Kanwar Intizar Muhammad Khan VS Federation of Pakistan 1995, in which it was established that while examining a reference under Article 63 (2), the speaker is not supposed to act merely as a post office and is not bound to forward it to the Chief Election Commissioner.

She also quoted a precedent from the last assembly, during which then NA speaker Chaudhry Amir Hussain rejected the government’s objection against the opposition’s nomination of Javed Hashmi to contest for the slot of leader of House.

Hashmi, according to the claim of the treasury benches, was convicted by a lower court on charges of defaming the armed forces; however, the speaker rejected the plea and let him contest the elections. (WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM AGENCIES)

Published in The Express Tribune, May 25th, 2012.

Reader Comments (25)

  • Muhammad Ali
    May 25, 2012 - 5:13AM

    oooh we’re all shocked !!!! LOL

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  • Jibran
    May 25, 2012 - 5:47AM

    Cool! A slap on the flat face of the Leader of Opposition!

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  • Jibran
    May 25, 2012 - 5:49AM

    One Party, Pakistan Memo League, wants to keep the entire country hostage. Their approach of “My way or the Highway” has been rejected multiple times by the people of Pakistan. Oddly enough, they lack the shame to quit their cheap politics.

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  • Disco
    May 25, 2012 - 6:26AM

    What the SC ruling has done is expose to the core how twisted these people are. If the SC had disqualified the PM, then these people would have cried ‘martyr’. They themselves have no moral courage to disqualify the PM. They are completely comfortable with a convict leading them.

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  • kala_bacha
    May 25, 2012 - 6:39AM

    She is following the foot step of her husband and showing true democracy revenge!

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  • Muhammad
    May 25, 2012 - 6:41AM

    She didn’t even pretend to give any legal reasoning for what was clearly supposed to be a legal decision! Such jokes.

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  • Mirza
    May 25, 2012 - 6:46AM

    According to constitution parliament is supreme and it is the only body which can make and amend laws no other institution has that power. The elected speaker of the elected NA used her constitutional powers independently (not like so many dummies) and came to the right conclusion. The will of the people is supreme not the unelected, paid govt servants like PCO judges. Kudos to Madam Speaker for standing tall. Perhaps now the SC would pay some attention to the more imp cases that have been pending for decades.

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  • SherDil
    May 25, 2012 - 6:51AM

    constitutionally the post of speaker of national assembly is a neutral one, whereby the person elected to this post must disassociate himself/herself with his or her party while presiding as speaker. speaker does not have the mandate to overrule supreme court’s decision but it is the will of parliament which is sovereign and NOT the speaker. Therefore if the parliament wants to overrule supreme courts decision then they must vote for it and not it cannot be overruled by any (literally puppet) speaker.

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  • May 25, 2012 - 6:53AM

    Inmates are running the asylum.

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  • Malek Tauqee/Towghi (Baloch), Ph.D.
    May 25, 2012 - 7:00AM

    Disgusting! The PML-N should bring a motion of NO CONFIDENCE against the speaker. It will obviously fail, but will expose for the students of history all the MNAs including those of the MQM, ML-Q, ANP, JUI who will vote for the speaker. If left unchallenged, I bet, when circumstances change, particularly during the next elections, many of them will claim that they were against the speakers decision.

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  • B.Ally
    May 25, 2012 - 7:25AM

    Sure ,Speaker is not a DAK KHANNA

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  • Jaipal dahiya
    May 25, 2012 - 7:54AM

    Drama is over.initially there was move by military to dislodge zardari.later on some agreement was reached and rest was all a drama for public consumption.2nd drama of opening route is going on can anybody guess what will b end of this drama.can anyboddy tell why drone attacks not stopped by military knowingly or afraid of usa?

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  • jagjit sidhoo
    May 25, 2012 - 7:59AM

    Nothing else was expected . When the PM & President can be openly corrupt why should the Speaker lag behind .

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  • intizar ali
    May 25, 2012 - 8:01AM

    @jibran, 100% correct. Speaker’s decision has pumped out steam from PMLN’s Go Gillani campaign, and has asserted supremacy of the parliament, which is real meaning of democracy.

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  • Jason M
    May 25, 2012 - 8:10AM

    I wonder what is the going rate of self respect, dignity and core values in Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Now this is the country Islam is everywhere but true Muslims are very hard to find. These silly politicians need to remember that they were elected to protect and serve the people of Pakistan not some political party and that’s why rest of the world is moving forward but Pakistan is going back in time. Seems like that the only thing government cares about new fiscal year so they can go on global tour begging for more aid or loans and if I am not mistaken begging is strictly against the basic principle of Islam. corrupting, corruption and more corruption all in the name of Islam. Shame on you Pakistan, you guys have become nothing more than a nation of beggars and no the whole world is laughing at you.

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  • harkol
    May 25, 2012 - 8:46AM

    yawn! So, what else is new?

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  • pakistan
    May 25, 2012 - 9:25AM

    I am ashamed of being a Pakistani.
    such a shameless nation and even more shamless leaders.

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  • May 25, 2012 - 9:35AM

    she intelligent – doesnt want to lose her ‘seat’ as speaker……. which of speaker has done ‘blind justice’..

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  • ahmer
    May 25, 2012 - 9:37AM

    Good job. This is the right thing to do…People should focus on working….Thank you Fehmida Mirza for closing this issue….I hope it remains closed

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  • Hamid Javaid
    May 25, 2012 - 10:16AM

    From this day onward I (a conman man) is free to commit any crime like my leaders. If they are not liable to any one why should I, huh

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  • Maria Suleman
    May 25, 2012 - 10:37AM

    Shame for such speaker.

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  • Rana
    May 25, 2012 - 10:54AM

    @Jaipal dahiya:

    I concur with you

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  • Zabandraz
    May 25, 2012 - 11:07AM

    Salute to the intelligence & wisdom of the Lady Speaker, which is more than the collective wisdom and knowledge of the law of those 6 judges who gave the verdict!!!!

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  • Bilal
    May 25, 2012 - 10:37PM

    Kudos to Dr. Mirza for her courage. Apart from her qualifications constitution gave her the powers as the elected speaker of the elected NA which is supreme body and makes and changes constitution. All those who keep talking about the convicted PM, where in the civilized world did an elected PM was convicted for contempt and had to leave? Can anybody provide specific examples? As far as the SC decisions go against the PPP govt, they have always been wrong. The nation has always rejected them and elected PPP again and again. ZAB was convicted for the worst crime and hanged. Where are the judges and Gen Zia who convicted ZAB? They are all dead in history and those alive in hiding, whereas ZAB and his party still in power. When would the judges and their masters listen to the people? The speaker is not a dummy but independent thinker unlike the 17 unanimous PCO judges.

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  • Syed Faisal Imam
    May 27, 2012 - 6:33PM

    What is right and what is wrong,
    What is the constitution
    What is the supreme court?
    What is Pakistan?
    What is the future of 180 million?

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