Petition filed in SC to declare defection 'unconstitutional'

A writ petition was filed in Supreme Court’s Lahore Registry on Monday seeking a declaration that Article 63-A of the Constitution does not allow for the defection of a member from his/her own party.

The petitioner Munir Ahmad filed the petition through Advocate Azhar Siddique. He implored in the petition that Article 63-A does not allow for defection, when read with Articles 17, 95 and 91(7) the said member may resign but him/her defecting will be construed as unconstitutional.

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Siddique raised 12 questions of law for consideration and determination by the court, which include: “whether keeping in view the scheme and spirit of the Constitution, which of the following two interpretations of Article 63-A is to be adopted and implemented to achieve the constitutional objective of curbing the menace of defections and purification of the electoral process and democratic accountability: 

(A) Interpretation of Article 63-A in a manner that Khiyanat by way of defections warrant no pre-emptive action, save de-seating the member of the parliament as per the prescribed procedure with no further restriction or curbs from seeking election afresh; or

(B) A robust, purpose-oriented and meaningful interpretation of Article 63-A, which visualises this provision as prophylactic enshrining the constitutional goal of purifying the democratic process, inter alia, by rooting out the mischief of defection by creating deterrence, inter alia, by neutralising the effects of the vitiated vote followed by the lifelong disqualification of the member of the parliament found involved in such constitutionally prohibited and morally reprehensible conduct.”

The petitioner’s counsel further questioned that where a member of the parliament engages in defection, can he/she claim a vested right to have his vote counted and given equal weightage? Or does there exist a restriction in the Constitution to exclude such tainted votes from the vote count?

He asked whether an act of defection is not against the Constitution in the form of disqualification as stated in Article 63-A? All members of the national or provincial assembly at the very first session of the house take an oath that they will abide by the Constitution, thus, while deviating from the party policy, a member, in reality, is not defecting from the Constitution and is not violating his oath to the office?

He further requested the court to declare that any sort/type of defection would lead to the imposition of a lifetime ban on contesting elections. The petitioner’s counsel also prayed that the court may unequivocally answer the questions raised in the petition to purify and strengthen the democratic process.

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