The votes of dissident members wouldn't be counted- Supreme Court announced majority verdict

SC announced 3-2 majority decision in presidential reference to interpret article 63-A  of the constitution 

The five member larger bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan announced majority decision in the presidential reference and declared that votes of the dissident members cannot be counted. The presidential reference was filed by president to seek legal advice of the apex Court in the article 63(A) of the constitution. The 3-2 majority decision of the SC said that Article 63(A) of the constitution should be read with Article 17 of the constitution. The reference was filed in the apex court in March after the Opposition parties submitted a no-trust motion against the then prime minister Imran Khan. 

The president asked four questions in the reference. The SC answered three out of four questions. The SC bench didn’t address the question of life time disqualification for dissident members and send this issue to parliament.  

Can defected parliamentarians be allowed to vote?

Will defected MPs vote be given equal weightage?

Can defected MPs be disqualified for life?

Other measures that can be taken to curb vote-buying?

In the majority verdict of 3:2, CJP Umar Atta Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, and Justice Munib Akhtar agreed that dissident members' votes should not be counted, while Justice Jamal Mandokhail and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel disagreed with the verdict.

In response to the first and second questions raised in the reference, the top court's majority judgement said the votes of the defected parliamentarians would not be counted.

In response to the third question regarding the disqualification of members, the top court rejected the PTI's plea, saving the lawmakers from permanently being barred from the Parliament.

In its opinion on the fourth question, the three judges said that it was the right time for the Parliament to legislate on lifetime disqualification and make laws in relation to curbing horse-trading.

The PTI government had approached the SC in a bid to stop its dissenting lawmakers from voting against Imran Khan and had sought a lifetime disqualification for those who attempted to deviate from the party's direction.

What is Article 63(A)?

Article 63(A) of the Constitution of Pakistan deals with the defection of parliamentarians.

According to the article, a lawmaker can be disqualified on the grounds of defection if they vote or abstain from voting in the House contrary to any direction issued by the parliamentary party to which they belong.

However, this is restricted to three instances where they have to follow the party’s directions:

Election of the prime minister or chief minister;

Vote of confidence or a vote of no-confidence;

Money bill or a Constitution (amendment) bill.

Per the article, the head of the party is required to present a written declaration that the MNA or MPA concerned has defected.

However, prior to presenting the declaration, the head of the party will have to give the MNA or MPA concerned a chance to explain the reasons for defection?

Following that, the party chief will then forward the written declaration to the speaker, who would, in turn, hand it over to the chief election commissioner (CEC).

The CEC will have 30 days at their disposal to confirm the declaration. Once confirmed, the MNA or MPA concerned will no longer be a member of the House and their “seat shall become vacant".


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