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Ex-CJ asks speaker to unseat PTI members

Ex-CJ asks speaker to unseat PTI members

ISLAMABAD: Former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has written a letter to National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, asking him to unseat the lawmakers belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) who had resigned on Aug 22 last year.

“From the text of Article 64(1) of the Constitution, it is clear that once a parliamentarian has resigned his seat by writing a letter to the effect, then his seat becomes vacant automatically,” he said in the letter written as a citizen.

Article 64(1) says: “A member of majlis-i-shura (parliament) may by writing under his hand addressed to the speaker… resign his seat and thereupon his seat becomes vacant,” while under Article 64(2) a house may declare the seat of a member vacant if he remains absent without leave of the house for 40 consecutive days of its sittings.

The former chief justice, who had been accused by PTI chief Imran Khan of playing a key role in rigging the 2013 general elections through returning officers, said neither the speaker nor anyone else had any discretionary power in the matter. “If the Constitution has left you with no discretion, then you cannot claim any.”

He said that when the ‘former lawmakers’ of the PTI recently attended a joint sitting of parliament, the speaker, as custodian of the house, should not have allowed them to attend it. He said when their resignations had became effective and they had lost any constitutional entitlement to a seat in the house, the conduct of the speaker had disappointed all law-knowing citizens, and termed it a lapse of the highest order.

“From your lapse we can draw two conclusions. Either it shows that you do not take your oath to uphold the Constitution very seriously or that you do not fully appreciate the meaning of the Constitution you have sworn an oath to defend.”

Mr Chaudhry said the speaker was under a constitutional obligation to notify acceptance of the resignations, enabling the Election Commission to hold by-elections for the vacant seats as under the Constitution and law he was not vested with the discretion to deny the acceptance of resignations submitted voluntarily by the parliamentarians.

“Moreover, before allowing them to attend the joint sitting of the house, you were constitutionally under obligation to pass appropriate orders on their resignations, if need be, after inquiring from them the genuineness of the same as per rules because no request so far has been made by them to withdraw the resignations,” he said.

Published in Dawn, April 12th, 2015

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