ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Justice has been bypassed in filing a presidential petition, asking for the interpretation of Article 63-A of the Constitution by the Supreme Court.
The Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Khalid Jawed Khan is of the view that since the reference is to Article 63, which is related to the Election Act, the competent authority is the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs who have done all the codal formalities .
But legal experts and former government officials insist it is up to the Justice Department.
Justice Department sources pointed out that the presidential dismissal was aimed at “an interpretation of Article 63-A in such a way that Khiyanat through defections does not justify any preventive action, except the removal of the seat of the member in accordance with prescribed procedure without further restriction or restriction of requesting a new election,” and Section 63-A, which was itself an explanation of Section 63, was within the purview of the Department of Justice.
The sources said the Justice Department was kept in the dark on this particular issue as it opposed the proposal to issue an order to disqualify PTI dissidents planning to vote on no confidence in the Prime Minister Imran Khan.
The Ministry of Justice is of the opinion that the explanation of Article 63 (1) (P) relating to the disqualification of members of national and provincial assemblies is self-evident as it states: “For the purposes of this paragraph, the ” law” does not include an ordinance enacted under section 89 or section 128.”
This meant that a lawmaker could not be disqualified by the presidential order, the sources said, adding that the Justice Department had been asked to consider the objection and draft a “vague” order to deter dissenters, but “the ministry did not cooperate”.
Subsequently, the Ministry of Justice was kept out of any further consultation regarding the tabling of the presidential ordinance and its input was not even sought on the issue of the requisitioned National Assembly session. by the opposition within the framework of the motion of censure against the Prime Minister. Minister.
According to well-placed sources, the Presidential Referral was drafted by the Attorney General and forwarded to the Parliamentary Affairs Division for completion and, after minor edits, the Prime Minister’s Adviser for Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan submitted it. to the Cabinet Division Sub-Section ‘e’ of Section 16 of the Rules of Practice 1973.
The section defines the cases to be brought before the federal cabinet and its subsection refers to “a referral to the Supreme Court for an opinion on a question of law under subsection (1) of section 186”.
According to Article 54 of Schedule VB of the Rules of Court, it is for the competent division to deal with the “referral to the Supreme Court on any question of law”.
Former Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Bureaucracy, Khawaja Zaheer Ahmed, said Article 14(b) of the Constitution clearly states that on matters relating to the interpretation of any law, each Division shall consult the Division of law and justice.
The sources said the Parliamentary Affairs Division had, however, forwarded a summary to the Legal Secretary with an instruction for subsequent submission to the Prime Minister. Therefore, in this particular case, the Department of Justice was simply used as a post office.
Former Justice Minister Farooq H. Naek, when contacted, said that since Section 63-A was not part of the Election Law, the Presidential Order should have been prepared by the Ministry of Justice. Justice. He pointed out that the PPP government had in the past filed two petitions, including the one seeking review of the conviction of former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and that both were initiated by the Ministry of Justice.
Former Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf said Dawn that it was the responsibility of the Department of Justice to prepare and file the reference.
“In my opinion, whenever the opinion of the court is sought, upon referral from the President of Pakistan, the following must be triggered: opinions under Order XXVII-A must be directed to all the attorneys general; the elected representatives of the umbrella bars must also be called into question; since there is no room for revision of an opinion and it is final, the whole tribunal must meet and deliberate on the issues; and amicus briefs should also be invited,” he added.
Posted in Dawn, March 24, 2022