No-confidence motion: IHC to be moved for govt lawmakers’ right to vote

The opposition parties have decided to approach the Islamabad High Court (IHC) with a request to restrain the government from adopting possible coercive tactics to stop its lawmakers from exercising their right to vote in favour of the no-trust move against Prime Minister Imran Khan, Today News.

The petition will be filed by the secretaries of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Wednesday. The voting on the no-confidence motion is likely to take place on March 28.

The united opposition front submitted a no-confidence motion on March 8, against the chief executive, pinning its hopes for the success of the motion on the estranged members of the ruling party and its allies. After filing the motion against the premier last week, the opposition spent the past few weeks reaching out to the government’s allies – it now claims to have enough votes.

The government, on the other hand, has intensified efforts to woo its allies to thwart the no-trust move. Similarly, the ruling party has also planned to stop its lawmakers from attending the session, warning potential defectors of disqualification and rejecting their votes cast against the party head.

In a presser last week, Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid had said those Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmakers who will cross the floor to vote against the premier will be disqualified by the speaker.

He had said the speaker has the power to disqualify lawmakers over possible defection.

At the time of the passage of the 18th Amendment, all political parties decided to give the power to the speaker to stop horse-trading, Rashid had claimed. “No one can challenge the ruling of the speaker.”

He had further said those PTI lawmakers who sold their vote for money will also face “political encirclement” by the PTI workers who would be gathered outside the Parliament House on the day of the vote. All followers of Imran will gather outside the National Assembly to express solidarity, he had added.

On the day of the no-trust vote likely to take place on March 28, the PTI has decided to hold a million-strong gathering outside Parliament House in a bid to support its leader Imran Khan and to apparently deter the party MNAs from coming to the lower house to cast votes, Today News.

PTI leader Amir Kiani a day earlier said that the lawmakers on the day of the voting “will have to pass through the rally of one million people” to cast their vote on the no-confidence motion against Imran.

Defection clause

The possibility of some ruling PTI lawmakers voting in favour of the no-confidence motion has generated a debate over the applicability of the defection clause.

Adviser to PM on Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan, during a programme on a TV channel, said that the National Assembly speaker has the authority to pass exclusive ruling, restraining MNAs from casting their votes in violation of directive issued by the party head, Today News.

Awan also said that the speaker’s ruling could not be challenged in any court of law.

However, former attorney general for Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf believes that the NA speaker has no such authority. He said that the defection clause would apply once a lawmaker voted in favour of the no-confidence motion.

Ausaf said the role of the NA speaker is like a postmaster in the implementation of Article 63(A) of the Constitution. He said that a party head is bound to issue show-cause notices to those lawmakers who acted against his or her direction in view of Article 63(A).

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