Colombo, April 10 (Counterpoint): Those supporting defeated Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan say that the Supreme Court had violated Art 69 of the constitution by countermanding a decision of the Deputy Speaker of parliament to disallow a motion of no-confidence against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party.
They point out that Art 69 says that Courts are not to inquire into proceedings of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament). (1) The validity of any proceedings in the Majlis-e-Shoora shall not be called in question on the ground of any irregularity of procedure. (2) No officer or a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora in whom powers are vested by or under the Constitution for regulating procedure or the conduct of business, or for maintaining order in the Majlis-e-Shoora shall be subject to the jurisdiction of any court in respect of the exercise by him of those powers.
Ali Zafar, counsel of Pakistani President Arif Alvi, argued that Article 69 of the Constitution identified a boundary between the judiciary and the legislature. Terming Article 69 a ‘firewall’, Zafar said that the judiciary cannot interfere in parliamentary affairs by crossing the firewall.
“There will be a clash if the judiciary interferes in the parliament,” just as parliament cannot interfere in the judiciary under the sub-judice rule. The court will exceed its jurisdiction if it issues any direction in this case, Ali Zafar maintained.
But Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial asked: “Can the judiciary not interference even if the parliament violates the Constitution?” To this Azar replied: “Parliament has two basic privileges; freedom of expression and it is itself a master and judge of its business.”
Azar maintained that the Speaker’s ruling could not be reversed, adding that the President’s actions also could not be reviewed in court.
In April 2017, Hindustan Times reported that the Indian Supreme Court told the government that it can interfere with the Lok Sabha Speaker’s decision if it violated the rules or procedures of parliament.
“If the Speaker says blue is green, then we will ask the speaker to say it’s blue. We can’t let it go as green,” a bench headed by Chief Justice J.S. Khehar told Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who had told the court that a Speaker’s decision could not be challenged in court.
Rohatgi was opposing Congress Rajya Sabha (Upper House) member Jairam Ramesh’s petition in which the latter had challenged the Speaker’s decision to certify the bill on Aadhaar (a comprehensive identity card) as a money bill. Ramesh contended that the certification was done to avoid the bill’s scrutiny before the upper house (Rajya Sabha) which does not have a say on a money bill.
Pressing for judicial scrutiny, Ramesh’s lawyer, senior advocate and Congress colleague, P Chidambaram, told the bench that it was important to ascertain as to how the bill was passed as a money bill.