Fehmida Mirza not to send reference to ECP against Gilani
25 May, 2012
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani took a sigh of relief on Thursday when National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza ruled out his disqualification after his conviction in a contempt of court case by not forwarding a reference to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
The much-awaited ruling of the speaker came on the heels of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani's appeal against his last month conviction by a seven-member bench of the Supreme Court. In a five-page ruling, the NA speaker categorically said that no question of PM Gilani's disqualification arises according to Article 63 of the constitution and in light of the Supreme Court's (SC) verdict.
"In view of this, there is no need to forward the disqualification reference against PM Gilani to the ECP as the SC had not raised the issue of his disqualification in the verdict," she said.
Furthermore, she argued, that "no specific charge" had been framed against the prime minister regarding "the propagation of any opinion or acting in any manner against the independence of the judiciary or defaming or ridiculing the judiciary" in the SC's verdict.
Apparently countering the arguments that speaker's role is like a post office when a reference is received, and substantiating her point by referring to the Article 63 of the constitution, she said, "If any question arises whether a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (parliament) has become disqualified from being a member, the speaker or, as the case may be, the chairman shall, unless he decides that no such question has arisen, refer the question to the Election Commission within thirty days..."
In the light of this article of the constitution, the speaker "is not supposed to act merely as post office", she asserted. The speaker is not bound to forward the disqualification reference to the Election Commission, but has to "apply his mind judiciously" before he/she decides "whether any question in the nature of disqualification has arisen", she said.
She said charges against Gilani are not relatable to the grounds mentioned in paragraph (g) or (h) of Clause (1) of Article 63. She also expressed "serious concerns" over a letter sent by SC's Assistant Registrar Iqbal Naseem, addressed directly to the speaker and asking for "further necessary action". "The speaker holds a constitutional position and demands the highest respect from other organs of the state," she said, adding, "Contents of the letter are in bad taste and also against the parliamentary norms and traditions."