ISLAMABAD   -   The joint opposition in the Senate on Friday rejected the stance of Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani that the no-confidence motion for his removal could not be moved in a requisitioned session and said that any delay in this move would be unconstitutional.

Following a meeting of parliamentary leaders of opposition parties in the Senate that was chaired by opposition leader at the parliament house, the opposition said that it has written a letter to Sanjrani which stated that the Constitution allowed to bring a no-confidence motion against chairman Senate. And if the motion is accepted through a majority vote, the office of chairman shall stand vacated, it added.

“That, paragraph (c) of clause 7 of Article 53 of Constitution of 1973, read with Article 61 of Constitution provides that a vote of no confidence may be brought against the chairman Senate by giving not less than 7 days’ notice,” the letter said that was written in response to July 17 letter of chairman Senate.

The letter stressed that in the said constitutional provision, there is “no provision” that the no-trust resolution would be passed in a session either summoned by the President or in a requisitioned session.

“The said constitutional provision places no bar that a resolution of no-confidence motion will not be taken up in any particular session including a requisitioned session,” reads the letter signed by parliamentary leaders of four opposition parties besides leader of opposition in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq.

The opposition in the letter also objected that it was “highly inappropriate and in violation of the rules and the 1973 Constitution that chairman Senate himself had objected over the motion that was meant for his own removal.

On July 17, Sanjrani had written a letter to the opposition’s Senator Sherry Rehman saying that the no-confidence motion against him could not be moved in a requisitioned session. The letter said that either the opposition should withdraw the requisition or wait for the regular session to move it.

On July 9, the opposition parties had submitted a resolution of no-confidence with the Senate Secretariat for removal of Sanjrani with the notice of requisition to convene the session to move no-trust.

The Friday’s letter of opposition says that “chairman Senate once summons session on a requisition, it is like a normal session, except the agenda of the requisition has primacy, as established by tradition and Rulings of the Chair in the internal and international jurisdictions.” “That, in the letter under reply, reliance is being placed on the Ruling of the Chair dated 10th February, 2016, wherein, it is stated that any discussion on an agenda item provided for by the requisitioners, discussion will take place under a Motion under Rule 218 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate 2012,” the letter says. This perception is misconceived and misplaced as the said ruling deals with the agenda and orders of the day in which primacy is to be given to the agenda stated in the requisition, it reads.

The opposition maintained that insinuation in the letter under reply that a resolution expressing no confidence in the office of the chairman Senate cannot be moved and or taken up in a requisitioned session was contrary to the provisions of the Constitution.

“In particular sub-rule (11) of Rule 12 of the Rules 2012 states that if during a session which has been summoned by the chairman in pursuance of clause (3) of Article 54 read with Article 61 of 1973 Constitution, the Senate shall not be prorogued until the motion has been disposed of, or if leave is granted, the resolution has been voted upon,” the letter says. It adds that the said sub-rule “removes the last shadow of doubt, if any, that a motion for leave and subsequently a resolution of no confidence cannot be moved or taken up in a requisitioned session.”

The letter says that in the light of the constitutional provisions and rules, the secretary Senate is required to place the motion on the orders of the day, as the only business, on the first day when the Senate meets either on a requisition or in a session summoned by the President.

The letter concluded that as the resolution has been circulated in compliance with Rule 12, therefore, the 7-day notice period as provided under the Constitution and reiterated in the rules has started to run.   

Senator Mir Hasil Bizenjo, the joint opposition’s candidate for the office of chairman Senate, while talking to reporters after the meeting said that any attempt to hinder the no-confidence motion would be a violation of Constitution. He remarked that the strength of opposition parties in its Thursday’s meeting was 55 and added, “We would be 60 plus in another meeting summoned on Monday.”  With the show of our strength, the other day, we have made the no-confidence move successful, Bizenjo said. He said that chairman Senate should summon the session in no time so that either side in the house could show its majority. He said that opposition would form its next strategy if convening of session was delayed.

He also condemned the arrest of former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi by National Accountability Bureau in a corruption case and said that opposition would not give in to any pressure.