Members’ loyalty every party’s basic right: SC

Sohail Khan
Wednesday, Jul 06, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday reiterated that the vote cast by the dissident members of a party would not be counted and it was the fundamental right of every party that its members show loyalty to it and its principles.

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Umer Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Aminuddin Khan and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, heard the appeals of the dissident members of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) filed against the verdict of the Election Commission of Pakistan.

During the course of hearing, Justice Bandial observed that violating the party discipline, changing loyalties and defecting to another party was not a trivial matter as it was related to the conscience of an individual. “We have already declared defection from a party and changing loyalties a cancer,” he remarked and recalled that on the interpretation of Article 63-A, which was sought by the president through a reference, the court had ruled that the vote cast by any dissident member would not be counted.

Some dissident PTI lawmakers including Ayesha Nawaz, Zehra Batool, Haroon Imran Gill, Ejaz Masih, Mohsin Atta Khan Khosa, Uzma Kardar and Sajida Yousaf had challenged the decision of the Election Commission of Pakistan in the Supreme Court. In May, the commission had de-seated 25 PTI MPAs for defying the party directives and voting for Hamza Shehbaz for the post of Punjab chief minister. The commission had accepted a reference filed by Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi against the dissident lawmakers for violating the Article 63-A that pertains to defection.

On Tuesday, the counsel for the dissident members submitted before the court that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had not issued any instruction for the election of Punjab chief minister. Justice Mazhar told the counsel that despite being PTI members, his clients voted for Hamza Shehbaz.

Justice Bandial asked the counsel why the dissident members attended an assembly session when their party (PTI) had boycotted it. “The apex court had already declared defection a cancer during the hearing of the presidential reference seeking interpretation of Article 63-A,” he said.

Uzma Kardar told the court that she was expelled from the party, adding that her case was different from the defection matter. The chief justice observed that the reserved seats were allocated in accordance with the proportional representation of a party in the assembly. He said it was the fundamental right of every political party that its members be loyal to it and follow its discipline. He observed that party members had to obey directions issued by the parliamentary leader of their party.

Meanwhile, the chief justice said that the matter relating to dictatorial attitude of a party head was also before the court, adding that as the case was important, all counsels for the appellants should come prepared on all points on the next date of hearing. Later, the court adjourned the hearing for an indefinite period.