Supreme Court rules blocking of vote to oust PM Imran Khan illegal

Apr 7, 2022: Pakistan’s Supreme Court has ruled that the dismissal of no-trust motion against PM Imran Khan was ‘unconstitutional’. The top court had taken a suo moto cognizance of the current political situation in the country.

The decision on Thursday came after four days of hearings by the top court. Khan will now face a no-confidence vote by lawmakers that he had tried to sidestep. The assembly will likely convene to vote on Saturday.

Pakistan’s Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial had earlier noted during the hearing that National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri’s move to dismiss a no-confidence motion against embattled Prime Minister Imran Khan through a controversial ruling is, prima facie, a violation of Article 95 of the Constitution as the apex court heard the high-profile case for the fourth day.

A five-member larger bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel, had heard the matter and reserved the verdict.

On April 3, the Pakistan National Assembly Deputy Speaker had rejected the no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan, brought by the joint opposition and declared it unconstitutional.

The Deputy Speaker said that it was against the Constitution and the rules of Pakistan. Soon after, Imran Khan advised the President to dissolve the National Assembly and called for fresh elections. Subsequently, the Assembly was dissolved with immediate effect.

A major political crisis was triggered when Khan and his allies thwarted the motion by opposition lawmakers that seemed certain to unseat him.

The move “is declared to be contrary to the constitution and of no legal effect and is set aside”, the court ruled.

Imran Khan’s opponents had garnered the 172 votes needed to oust him in the 342-seat house after several members of his own party and a key coalition partner defected. But the deputy speaker of parliament, a member of Khan’s party, threw out the no-confidence motion.

The opposition claimed Khan violated the constitution and took its case to the country’s top court.

Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial read out the decision and said the steps taken for the formation of a caretaker government ahead of elections were also unconstitutional.

“It is declared that all actions initiated … for purposes of holding a general election to elect a new assembly – including but not limited to the appointment of a caretaker prime minister and cabinet – are of no legal effect and are hereby quashed,” the court decision said.

Opposition leaders came out of the court showing victory signs as supporters shouted vociferously.

Earlier on Thursday, the fourth day of hearings, Khan’s lawyers defended the controversial move and said the Supreme Court did not have jurisdiction to intervene in parliamentary affairs.

Khan said the opposition had gone too far by colluding with the United States for “regime change”. He said Washington wants him gone because of his independent foreign policy.

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