Why PTI dissident MPAs voted when their party had boycotted Punjab CM election, asks CJP

ISLAMABAD    –    Chief Justice of Pakistan Jus­tice Umar Ata Bandial Tues­day observed that the loyalty of members was a basic right of political parties. “It is the funda­mental right of political parties that its members remain loyal to it,” the CJP said while hear­ing petitions filed by dissident PTI members from the Punjab Assembly, who have challenged the Election Commission of Pa­kistan’s (ECP’s) decision to dis­qualify them for defection.

The ECP had disqualified 25 dissident MPAs of the PTI on May 20 on the grounds that they had voted for PML-N’s Hamza Shehbaz in the election for Pun­jab chief minister against the party line and defected.

The decision had come days after the Supreme Court’s (SC’s) decision on a presidential refer­ence seeking its interpretation of Article 63-A, related to the disqualification of lawmakers over defection.

At the outset of the hearing, a lawyer representing the peti­tioners argued that the PTI had not issued any instructions re­garding the Punjab chief min­ister’s election. He added that Punjab Assembly Speaker Parvez Elahi, who was the joint candidate of the PTI and PML-Q for the slot, had boycotted the session for the election.

Justice Mazhar, however, ob­served that the petitioners had voted for the PML-N despite being members of the PTI. CJP Bandial also questioned why they had participated in the vot­ing when their party had boy­cotted the election session.

He noted that the SC had al­ready declared defection a “can­cer” in its interpretation of Arti­cle 63-A, adding that “defection was no small matter”. “It’s about a person’s conscience,” he re­marked. During the hearing, PTI dissident MPA Uzma Kardar, who was elected on a reserved seat for women, came to the ros­trum and took the stance that the PTI had ousted her from the party and hence, “my case is dif­ferent from that of defection”.

At this, the CJP observed that reserved seats in an assembly were allocated to political par­ties according to their propor­tional representation in the house. “It would have to be seen that when the PTI had ousted you from the party, why did you remain an [assembly] member,” he added.

Kardar said in reply that she had worked hard for the PTI, putting in her blood and sweat, and “I still am a member of the party”. She claimed that she had been ousted due “internal con­spiracies” within the PTI. “Yet I remained a parliamentarian.

“Article 63-A has given me protection [in the sense] that defection has not been proved against me,” she said.

At that, Justice Mazhar asked whether the ECP did not know that she had been ousted from the party. All documents were present before the ECP, Kardar replied. The CJP then said the SC had already made it clear that the votes of dissident lawmakers would not be counted. “It is the fundamental right of political parties that its members remain loyal to it,” the CJP said. In this connection, he also gave the ref­erence of a no-confidence vote faced by British Prime Minis­ter Boris Johnson. “Do you know where was Boris Johnson defeat­ed? No motion was submitted against him in parliament

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