Article 63-A: Supreme Court says dissident lawmakers’ vote cannot be counted

The Supreme Court of Pakistan, while announcing a verdict in the presidential reference seeking interpretation of Article 63(A), said that the vote of dissident party members will not be counted.

A five-member larger bench of the apex court headed by CJP Bandial, and comprising Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan, Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel, Justice Muneeb Akhtar and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel had reserved the judgment.

Pronouncing the verdict, the top court remarked that the article concerned cannot be interpreted alone.

The decision was pronounced by the Supreme Court in a 3-2 ratio. Justice Mando Khel and Justice Mazhar Alam of the five-member bench disagreed.

Chief Justice Omar Ata Bandial, Justice Ejaz-ul-Haq and Justice Muneeb Akhtar said that the vote cast by the defecting member should not be counted while Justice Mazhar Alam Mian Khel and Justice Mandokhel disagreed.

It may be recalled that Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan, Justice Mazhar Alam Mian Khel, Justice Muneeb Akhtar and Justice Jamal Mandokhel were part of the larger bench. Chief Justice of Pakistan Omar Ata Bandial has said that a detailed decision will be issued later.

The apex court further stated that the parliament should legislate to decide on the issue of disqualification of dissident lawmakers.

The top court verdict said that deviation is tantamount to weakening the political party and Article 63A protects political parties in the political arena. The court said that the purpose of Article 63A is to prevent defections in the party and Parliament should legislate in this regard, it is time to legislate on dissident members.

The Reference

The former PTI-led government had approached the SC for clarity on Article 63(A) as several PTI lawmakers were likely to vote on the no-trust motion against then prime minister Imran Khan, in a violation of the party policy.

In the reference, the government sought the apex court’s opinion on interpretations of Article 63(A) and which one should be adopted and implemented.

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