Home Latest News Ruling Coalition Decides to Boycott Supreme Court Hearing

Ruling Coalition Decides to Boycott Supreme Court Hearing

PTI accuses incumbent government of ‘attacking’ judiciary by announcing boycott of proceedings

by Newsweek Pakistan

Screengrab of ruling coalition press conference

Political leaders representing the parties comprising the ruling coalition on Monday night announced they will boycott Supreme Court proceedings in the ongoing case against the election of PMLN’s Hamza Shehbaz as chief minister of Punjab.

Hamza was elected the chief minister of Punjab last week after Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari rejected 10 votes cast by the PMLQ, citing a Supreme Court ruling that had stated votes cast against party instructions should be rejected. The Supreme Court has been hearing arguments on the case, with the ruling coalition demanding a full court bench be formed to conclusively decide all cases linked to Article 63A, pertaining to the defection of lawmakers. On Monday, after daylong hearings, the court rejected the plea for a full court bench, saying the case would continue to be heard by the three-member bench led by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial.

Addressing a late night press conference at the Prime Minister’s House on Monday, JUIF chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman—flanked by leaders of other members of the ruling coalition—said if the Supreme Court didn’t form a full court, “then we [ruling coalition] will also reject all decisions of the judiciary as we will not appear before this three-member bench.” Announcing a boycott of proceedings, he said the coalition government didn’t want any institution to interfere in its matters.

Similarly, Foreign Affairs Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, who is also the PPP Chairman, said any decision related to the functioning of an institution should be heard by a full bench. Endorsing Fazl’s announcement of a boycott, he said the PPP stood with the ruling alliance in advocating a boycott of proceedings.

PMLN’s Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, meanwhile, said the case was now a “test” for the Supreme Court. He said the boycott decision was a result of an earlier warning by the ruling coalition that only a decision rendered by a full court would be accepted by the people of Pakistan. He stressed that the three judges on the current bench—the CJP, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Munib Akhtar—had a responsibility to decide whether or not history would accept their conduct.

Leaders of the MQMP, ANP, BAP, BNP and other government-allied parties were also present at the press conference and backed the boycott decision.

Prior to the press conference, the ruling coalition deliberated on its next steps in a meeting of party leaders. Shortly after it commenced, PMLN leader Maryam Nawaz claimed the only reason for the SC denying a full court was “fear” that it would contradict its own earlier decision. In a posting on Twitter, she said she was “almost sure” that a full court will not be formed, adding that when decisions aren’t taken in accordance with the Constitution, law, and justice, then the formation of a full court is “deemed dangerous.”

The threat of the boycott was initially voiced by Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, who had said it was under consideration if the Supreme Court did not form a full bench to hear the petition against the election of the Punjab chief minister.

PTI condemns

Following the ruling coalition’s announcement, the PTI hosted its own press conference and described the decision as an attack on the judiciary by the executive. “Today, Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) has attacked the Constitution, however, the nation will reject those who have rejected the SC’s decision,” claimed PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

Questioning why the PDM had turned against the same judges who had ruled against then-National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri’s dismissal of a vote of no-confidence, he claimed the PTI was willing to sit with the government if it wished to discuss the conduct of free and fair elections.

“We can discuss with them how to hold transparent elections and how to restore the credibility of the Election Commission and what reforms are needed. We have no personal enmity with anyone,” he added.

PTI Secretary General Asad Umar claimed the judiciary was being threatened because the ruling coalition was in a “state of shock” over the apex court’s rejection of its “fake” demands. “Same three judges were a part of the bench who had given decision against Imran Khan’s government. However, our leader went out to people as he lived in the hearts of people,” he said.

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