Explanation of Article 63(a): SCBA files review petition in SC

Supreme Court of Pakistan. – afp / file

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on Thursday moved the apex court seeking a review of its May 17 judgment on the interpretation of Article 63 (A) relating to the treatment of dissidents.

On 17 May, the SC had ruled that the votes of disgruntled Members of Parliament (MPs) cannot be counted against the directions of their parliamentary party, while seeking an interpretation on Article 63(a) of the President .

SCBA filed a petition in the apex court to withdraw its opinion on the paragraph of the decision not to count the votes of the dissidents by reviewing the interpretation made on May 17, 2022. It said that dissidents should only get their votes cast away. It is believed to be counted according to the constitution of Pakistan.

SCBA said in the petition, “The opinion of the apex court not to count the dissenting votes is against the Constitution and amounts to interference in it.”

The Bar Association has named the Federal Government of Pakistan and the Election Commission as respondents in the case.

Votes of disgruntled MPs will not be counted: Supreme Court

The court, while delivering its verdict on the President’s reference to Article 63 (A) of the Constitution relating to defecting MPs, said the law cannot be interpreted separately.

The top court today concluded the hearing of the reference, which was filed by President Arif Alvi on March 21. The hearing continued for 58 days since its filing.

Reference asked questions

  • Can defection MPs be allowed to vote?
  • Will the votes of defecting MPs be given equal importance?
  • Can defecting MPs be disqualified for life?
  • What other measures can be taken to curb vote-buying?

In a split decision, three judges – Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandiyal, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Muneeb Akhtar – agreed that the votes of dissident members should not be counted.

Meanwhile, Justice Jamal Mandokhail and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miyankhel disagreed with the verdict.


The erstwhile PTI-led government had decided to approach the Supreme Court for clarity on Article 63(A) after several PTI MPs had announced to vote on a no-confidence motion against the then Prime Minister Imran Khan – the party that violation of the policy.

Despite its decision not to support its leader, none of the PTI MNAs moved a no-confidence motion against Khan, as the then opposition already had the required 172 votes to oust him.

In context, the government sought the apex court’s opinion on two interpretations of Article 63 (A) and which should be adopted and implemented to achieve the constitutional objective of preventing the menace of defection, purification of the electoral process and democratic accountability.

The reference states that if the constitutional disapproval and the prohibition against defection were effectively implemented for the foreseeable future, many such members would be disqualified for life under Article 62(1)(f) and never Will not be able to pollute democratic streams.

What is Article 63(a)?

Article 63 (A) of the Constitution of Pakistan deals with the defection of MPs.

According to the article, an MP can be disqualified on the ground of defection if he votes or abstains from voting in the House contrary to any direction issued by the parliamentary party to which he belongs.

However, this is limited to three instances where they have to follow the directions of the party:

  • the election of the Prime Minister or Chief Minister;
  • vote of confidence or no-confidence vote;
  • Money Bill or Constitution (Amendment) Bill.

According to the article, the party chief is required to submit a written declaration that the MNA concerned has defected.

However, before presenting the declaration, the party chief has to give an opportunity to the MNA concerned to explain the reasons for the defections.

After that, the party chief will forward the written declaration to the speaker, who will in turn hand it over to the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC).

The CEC will have 30 days to confirm the declaration. Once confirmed, the MNA concerned will cease to be a member of the House and their “seat will become vacant”.