ISLAMABAD - The Upper House of the Parliament Thursday kicked off a constitutional debate on the controversial appointment of JUI-Fs Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri as Leader of the Opposition bringing the boycott of the budget session by PML-N and other opposition groups to an end. Some four lawmakers gave counter arguments against one another for disenfranchising a group of PML-Q legislators and giving the right of vote to independent members including of Fata in the appointment of the leader of the opposition. The lawmakers also gave reference of constitutions and rules of business of parliament houses of India, UK, Canada and other countries. The chairman Senate informed the house that he would give 'his opinion within a week after conclusion of the debate. The controversy over the appointment of leader of the opposition erupted when Chairman Senate Farooq H Naek issue notification on June 6. The opposition was divided on the issue as PML-N and some other opposition groups termed the decision controversial on the grounds that Maulana Haideri did not enjoy support of majority of the opposition members. Zafar Ali Shah of PML-N giving his arguments on the issue of disenfranchising nine PML-Q members (dissidents and Likeminded group) in the appointment of leader of the opposition by chairman said under the constitution the right to exercise vote of members of the parliament could not be challenged in any court of law. He said Article 63 (A) of the Constitution regarding 'Defection Clause did not apply on these PML-Q members, as it was only specific to money bill, election of prime minister and vote of no confidence etc. He said according to rules of business of the house, the leader of the opposition meant who enjoyed the support of majority of members sitting on the opposition benches and not the majority of opposition party. He said if a parliamentary part split, the chair could not reject to admit the separate identity of any group. Naeem Hussain Chattha of PML-Q argued that the chair had no right to disenfranchise them (nine members of PML-Q), as it was their right to vote according to their conscience besides the areas where defection clause applied. He said he was part of opposition as chair had allotted them seats on opposition benches. Begum Ghulsan Saeed of PML-Q also supported his party member. Professor Khurshid Ahmed of JI gave sound arguments on the issue and said the chair had done two major omissions in its earlier decision regarding the status of independent members of their right to vote in relation to the appointment of opposition leader and those PML-Q members who were denied right to vote. He said the omission regarding the denial the right to vote should be rectified and opposition members of PML-Q should be honoured. Defection Clause, party discipline and conscience are the three things that have to be kept in mind while deciding the right to vote, he added. He said a member had the right to vote according to his conscience and the difference of viewpoint from the party leadership was the right of a lawmaker and it was not horse-trading but there were red lines that could not be crossed. He said the chair would have to admit the separate identity of these PML-Q dissidents. Quoting rules of business of India and UK parliaments, he said the leader of opposition was supposed to be the person a known entity, who enjoyed the majority of members of the opposition. Prof Khurshid Ahmed on the issue of giving the right of vote to independent members including lawmakers of Fata on the appointment of leader of the opposition said they could not vote for leader of the opposition unit adding that they should be admitted as part of the opposition. If independents have not attached themselves with some party either on the opposition or treasury members, then even they had no rights to vote for opposition leader besides their rights as independent members would remain intact, he added. He said the treasury benches, opposition and independents were three different entities in the parliament. S M Zafar opposed the legal points raised by Prof Khurshid Ahmed saying that the appointment of leader of the opposition was the discretionary power of the chair who in his opinion was the appropriate one. He said there was no question of right to vote in this particular situation. He also said leader of the opposition did not mean a person who enjoyed the majority of members of opposition but a person whose party had the greatest numerical strength in the house. He said the constitution did not allow separate groups within the political parties. Separate seat allocation does not mean division of the party as there are no legal consequences of seat allocation, he added. He said there was great difference between alliance and merger of political parties, as there was provision only at the time of merger of a party with other one that a group having 1/3 members of the former could separate themselves from it. S M Zafar will continue his arguments today when the house would start its proceeding at 10:00 am. Earlier Haideri and Zahid Khan on the separate point of orders showed their resentment saying that Finance Minister had concluded the debate on Finance Bill 2011-12 in the house the other day despite the fact that many members had to deliver their speeches. Senator Ishaq Dar on the point of order appreciating the governments decision of constitution of a commission under the supervision of Supreme Court judge to investigate the murder of Saleem Shahzad, a journalist said that the decision should be implemented and did not meet the fate as of Abbottabad Commission. Senator Farah Aqil of ANP raising the Haripur incident in which a woman was forced to march naked publicly termed it a shameful act against the religious teachings and dignity of women. ANP and JUI-F exchanged hot words between each other when Haji Ghulam Ali alleged that ANP-led government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was incompetent to take action in Haripur-like incidents and it was busy minting money by corruption. On this, Zahid Khan said people knew the assets of Wali Khan, Isfandyar Khan of ANP and Mufti Mahmood as well as Maualna Fazlur Rehman of JUI-F.