No-confidence session requisitioned by opposition delayed 4 days beyond limits set under Constitution
National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser has summoned a session of the Lower House on March 25 (Friday) to deliberate on the opposition’s no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan, four days later than the constitutional requirement for any session requisitioned by lawmakers.
According to a notification issued by the NA Secretariat, the Lower House would convene at Parliament on Friday at 11 a.m. Under the Constitution, the speaker is bound to convene the NA session no later than 14 days after the opposition’s requisition, which was submitted on March 8. The speaker, in the notification, has claimed that the session needed to be delayed by four days—from March 21 to March 25 in violation of the Constitution—due to the upcoming three-day conference of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) that would take place in the National Assembly.
Claiming that there is “no suitable place” to hold the constitutionally required NA session due the Chambers of the National Assembly being utilized for the OIC conference; the Senate Hall being “renovated”; and the Islamabad deputy commissioner and Capital Development Authority chairman informing the NA in writing that there is no “suitable building” in Islamabad to convene Parliament, the speaker has claimed he has no choice but to delay the convening of the NA.
Under the law, the speaker is bound to summon a requisitioned assembly session no later than 14 days after it has been sought. However, he is free to summon it at any point within the 14 days; the session could have been summoned earlier when the Senate Hall was not being “renovated” if the speaker had not wished to delay proceedings the maximum amount possible.
According to sources within the PTI, the speaker is planning yet further delays; the NA has placed offering of fateha for deceased PTI MNA Haji Khayal Zaman on the agenda of the March 25 sitting, after which the speaker has the “discretionary power” to either continue or adjourn the session.
If the opposition is able to table the no-confidence vote during the March 25 sitting—and move it the same day—it would prompt the voting period, which cannot commence for at least three days and must be completed within seven days. In this situation, the final day for voting would be April 1. Once the resolution has been moved, the speaker cannot prorogue the session until the no-confidence motion had been disposed of or voted upon.