Pakistan government files presidential reference in SC to counter political defections

By Hamza Ameer

Islamabad, Mar 21 (IANS): Ahead of the vote ion the no-confidence motion, which is now scheduled to be tabled in the National Assembly on March 25, the Imran Khan government has moved a presidential reference in the Supreme Court, seeking clarity over action and steps that can be taken against its party members, who may vote against it.

The Pakistan government has raised four main questions, seeking suggestion and clarity from the Supreme Court in relations to disqualification of a party member.

Declaring the ongoing defection and the practice of horse-trading in politics as "cancerous vice of floor crossing", the reference maintains that Pakistan has failed to achieve stability in its polity.

"Defection of elected members has many vices. In the first place, if the member has been elected on the basis of a manifesto, or on account of his affiliation with a political party, or on account of his particular stand on a question of public importance, does defection amount to a clear breach of confidence reposed in him by the electorate," read the reference.

"If his conscience dictates to him so, or he considers it expedient, the only course open to him is to resign to shed off his representative character which he no longer represents and to fight a re-election. This will make him honourable, politics clean, and emergence of principled leadership possible..." the reference added.

Questions of Law:

The reference raises four questions over the implementation and understanding of Article 63A of the Constitution.

Interpretation of Article 63A in a manner that it, by way of defection, warrants no preemptive action save de-seating the member as per the prescribed procedure with no further restriction or curbs from seeking election a fresh OR a robust, purpose oriented and meaningful interpretation of Article 63A which visualises this provision as prophylactic enshrining the constitutional goals of purifying the democratic process, inter alia, by rooting out the mischief of defection by creating lifelong disqualification for the member found involved in such constitutionally prohibited and morally reprehensible conduct.

When a member engages in constitutionally prohibited and morally reprehensible act of defection, can the member nevertheless claim a vested right to have his vote counted and given equal weightage or there exist or is to be read into the Constitution restriction to exclude such tainted votes from the vote count?

Where a member who could but did not hear the voice of his conscience by resigning from his existing seat in the Assembly and has been finally declared to have committed defection after exhausting the procedure prescribed in Article 63A of the Constitution including appeal to the Supreme Court under Article 63A(5), he can no longer be treated to be sagacious, righteous, non-profligate, honest and ameen and, therefore, stands disqualified for life?

What other measures and steps can be undertaken within the existing constitutional and legal framework to curb, deter and eradicate the cancerous practice of defection, floor crossing and vote buying?

Experts believe that this move by the government is aimed at inserting more pressure on the defected members, who have joined the opposition parties and have vowed to vote against Prime Minister Imran Khan, and compel them to rejoin the ruling party and save Imran Khan's Prime Ministerial post.



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Title: Pakistan government files presidential reference in SC to counter political defections

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