Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial observed on Wednesday that loyalty was the fundamental principle of the Constitution.
The chief justice’s remarks came as the apex court resumed hearing on the presidential reference, concerning the interpretation of Article 63(A), filed by the outgoing Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) government.
“Defection is betrayal. It is the opposite of loyalty, which is a fundamental principle of the Constitution,” the CJP observed. He added that Article 5 of the Constitution focuses on loyalty. “It is the duty of every member of the parliament to be loyal to his party,” the CJP maintained.
However, the CJP added that the party head may condone the defection by not forwarding a declaration to the National Assembly speaker.
However, counsel for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Farooq H Naek said that disloyalty was a harsh word.
Moreover, Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan stated that if disloyalty was tantamount to dishonesty then Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution will be applicable on the lawmaker, and they will be disqualified for life.
The judge further maintained that the party was the backbone of the parliamentary system.
However, Naek insisted that Article 62(1)(f) could not be applied on account of defection.
He argued that there was a difference between “loyalty” and “slavery”. He said that if the court thinks that a defecting lawmaker could be disqualified for life then it would be tantamount to re-writing the Constitution.
Advocate General Sindh Salman Talibuddin argued that the insertion of Article 63(A) of the Constitution reflects how mature democracy is in the country.
He requested the SC to return the presidential reference unanswered, questioning the timing of the reference’s filing and terming it “dubious”.
Concluding the day’s hearing, CJP Bandial asked the counsels for all the parties to explain to the court the purpose of the right to appeal granted to the lawmaker under Article 63(A) if they have already been de-seated by the Election Commission. “What will the SC decide the appeal under>” he questioned.
The hearing of the reference has been adjourned till tomorrow.
A day earlier, while hearing the case, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, while referring to the recent criticism of the Supreme Court’s recent judgments, observed that it had become a culture in the country to blame courts if the decisions pronounced by the judges did not favour the parties involved.
Justice Ahsan, who sits on the five-member bench hearing a presidential reference seeking interpretation of Article 63-A, made the remarks a day after Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial asked why the apex court’s adjudication upon political matters was sought in the first place when leaders end up subjecting it to curses at rallies.
Apparently referring to former PM Imran Khan, who feels aggrieved by the judiciary’s actions on the eventful night of his ouster through a no-confidence vote ordered by the top court, the chief justice had said how could the judiciary deliver judgments if some political leader manages to gather 10,000 to 15,000 people in political rallies, only to reject the verdicts.