Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah remarked on Thursday that the forum for resolving political disputes was parliament and not the courts and that the court would not facilitate a political dialogue.
During the hearing of a petition filed by 10 Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) National Assembly members (MNAs), Chief Justice Minallah also remarked that courts were involved in political affairs in the last 70 years which harmed the judiciary. He added that the court could not issue instructions to the speaker.
Ten PTI MNAs moved the IHC on Wednesday against the acceptance of their resignations by Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf instead of accepting the resignation of all the 123 party members of the lower house of parliament.
The petitioners, including Dr Shireen Mazari, Farrukh Habib and Ali Muhammad Khan, contended that all the 123 MNAs tendered resignations en masse on the party’s directions with a view to forcing the government to announce the date of fresh general elections.
In their petition submitted through their lawyer, PTI Senator Barrister Syed Ali Zafar, the PTI lawmakers requested the court that the speaker’s notification about acceptance of the 10 resignations be declared as illegal.
During the hearing, Chief Justice Minallah said that the people trust and send their representatives to parliament and added that staying out of the assembly while being a member of it was an insult to parliament.
He also said that the petitioners were saying that the speaker’s notification about their resignations be suspended so that they boycott parliament. He added that the members, whose resignations had not been accepted, so far, should go to parliament and prove their good intentions.
Barrister Ali Zafar, the counsel for the petitioners, told the court that the resignations were given on the condition that all 123 members would resign but the speaker did not fulfil his constitutional responsibility and accepted the resignation of only 11 members by taking dictation.
The chief justice said that when resignation was tendered, its approval was the authority of the speaker. He said that the lawmaker could not impose conditions after resigning and told the lawyer to hold dialogue with political parties. “The court cannot grant a request meant for political point-scoring.”
Barrister Ali Zafar said that if the resignation order was suspend, they could talk to the speaker. However, the chief justice replied that the court would not facilitate the lawmakers for a political dialogue.
Chief Justice Minallah further said that the petitioners were saying that they did not believe in parliament and they wanted to maintain political instability which was not in the interest of the country. Besides, the people of their constituency remained unrepresented.
While referring to a leaked audio, Barrister Zafar said that resignations were accepted unconstitutionally because “others were making the decision”. He added that the decision to accept the resignations was not of the speaker’s but of those who was “alien”.
The chief justice told the lawyer that that the court would not go in this direction. However, he asked whether former National Assembly deputy speaker Qasim Suri’s decision of dismissing the no-confidence motion against then prime minister Imran Khan in March, was his own.
Barrister Ali Zafar told the court the petitioners wanted to stay in parliament. The chief justice told the lawyer that he should first satisfy the court that the petitioners really wanted to return to parliament, adding that they should say that they resigned under pressure and admit their mistake.
When the chief justice asked whether the 10 members give an affidavit that they would go against the party policy and stay in parliament, the lawyer said that the affidavit could be given but the part that they would go against the party policy would be removed.
The hearing was adjourned for an indefinite period.
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