Vote of confidence – SHC wants answers with or without Gilani

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KARACHI – The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Friday issued notices to the deputy attorney general and other respondents in a constitutional plea seeking a fresh vote of confidence from the National Assembly for Prime Minister (PM) Yousuf Raza Gilani.
Petitioner Rasheed Akhund, an advocate of the Supreme Court who had also moved the court against President Asif Ali Zardari holding dual offices, appeared before a division bench headed by Chief Justice Mushir Alam and submitted preliminary arguments. The court subsequently issued notices to the respondents to submit their comments at the hearing, the date of which will be fixed later.
Pakistan President and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Ministry of Law and Parliamentary Affairs, the Nawaz and Quaid factions of the Pakistan Muslim League, Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the Election Commission of Pakistan were cited as respondents in the petition.
The petitioner submitted that under Article 91(7) of the Constitution, the president of Pakistan has to summon the National Assembly session and ask the PM to obtain a vote of confidence from the assembly if the government loses the confidence of the majority of legislators.
Akhund argued that the PM has lost confidence of the majority of the members since its coalition partners Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) had withdrawn their support. This meant that the government now has 167 votes out of 340, he argued, but a majority needed at least 171 members’ supports.
The plaintiff maintained that after losing its majority, the government was now unconstitutional under the parliamentary form of the government. He submitted that the rule of a minority government is a failure of parliamentary democracy as it cannot pass laws under articles 141 and 142 of the constitution.