LAHORE: The Unification Bloc can vote for the chief minister if a vote of confidence is called, according to a Law Department summary sent to the Punjab Assembly speaker.
A department official, talking to The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity, said that according to the department advice, sub article 8 of Article 63 A (the law against floor crossing) will take effect following the next general election. “It is a win-win situation since the law does not apply to the current situation. The Unification Bloc members can ignore the opposition leader’s instructions,” the official said.
The Law Department has told the speaker that since the 18th Amendment does not go into effect yet, according to Article 63-A, a parliamentary leader can only report a defection to the presiding officer (speaker) and ask him to declare the rebel members of his party as defectors. “The law is silent on what will happen if the speaker does not take any action,” according to the official. He said that the department had told the speaker that he could hold on to the declaration – in case Chaudhry Zaheeruddin moves it –indefinitely.
Advocate Muhammad Azhar Siddique, when contacted by The Express Tribune, said that before the 18th amendment, Article 63 A gave the government the benefit of doubt. “Before the amendment, the parliamentary leader could only send a declaration to the speaker. It was up to the speaker whether or not to send it to the chief election commissioner,” Siddique said.
However, if the article is read with the 18th amendment, the parliamentary leader as head of a party has now been empowered to refer the declaration to both the speaker and the chief election commissioner (CEC). “The PML-Q can then go to court where they will be required to prove that the speaker is not forwarding their declaration to the CEC.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 22nd, 2011.