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Overview of Article 63(A) of the Constitution of Pakistan
Article 63(A) of Pakistan’s 1973 Constitution plays a central role in safeguarding its parliamentary system. Established by way of the Constitution (Eighteenth Amendment) Act 2010, this provision sets up mechanisms to address instances in which members of political parties act against party directives or switch allegiance.
Article 63(A) States
63(A) Disqualification on grounds of defection, etc.
- If a member of a Parliamentary Party composed of a single political party in a House-
- resigns from membership of his political party or joins another Parliamentary Party; or
- votes or abstains from voting in the House contrary to any direction issued by the Parliamentary Party to which he belongs, in relations to-
- election of the Prime Minister or the Chief Minister; or
- a vote of confidence or a vote of no-confidence; or
- a Money Bill or a Constitution (Amendment) Bill;
he may be declared in writing by the Party Head to have defected from the political party, and the Head of the Parliamentary Party may forward a copy of the declaration to the Presiding Officer, and shall similarly forward a copy thereof to the member concerned:
Provided that before making the declaration, the Party Head shall provide such member with an opportunity to show cause as to why such declaration may not be made against him.
Explanation: “Party Head” means any person, by whatever name called, declared as such by the Party.
- A member of a House shall be deemed to be a member of a Parliamentary Party if he having been elected as a candidate or nominee of a political party which constitutes the Parliamentary Party in the House or, having been elected otherwise than as a candidate or nominee of a political party, has become a member of such Parliamentary Party after such election by means of a declaration in writing.
- Upon receipt of the declaration under clause (1), the Presiding Officer of the House shall within two days refer the declaration to the Chief Election Commissioner who shall lay the declaration before the Election Commission for its decision thereon confirming the declaration or otherwise within thirty days of its receipt by the Chief Election Commissioner.
- Where the Election Commission confirms the declaration, the member referred to in clause (1) shall cease to be a member of the House and his seat shall become vacant.
- Any party aggrieved by the decision of the Election Commission may within thirty days, prefer an appeal to the Supreme Court which shall decide the matter within ninety days from the date of the filing of the appeal.
- Nothing contained in this Article shall apply to the Chairman or Speaker of a House.
- For the purpose of this Article –
- “House” means the National Assembly or the Senate in relation to the Federation and a Provincial Assembly in relation to the Province, as the case may be.
- “Presiding Officer” means the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Chairman of the Senate or the Speaker of the Provincial Assembly, as the case may be.
- Article 63A substituted as aforesaid shall come into effect from the next general elections to be held after the commencement of the Constitution (Eighteenth Amendment) Act, 2010:
Provided that till Article 63A substituted as aforesaid comes into effect the provisions of existing Article 63A shall remain operative.
Key Points of Article 63(A) of the Constitution of Pakistan
- Preventing Defection: Article 63(A) introduces anti-defection measures to prevent members from engaging in actions detrimental to their political party or the parliamentary system.
- Party Head Empowerment: The provision empowers the Party Head to make declarations of defection, ensuring a central authority within the party responsible for maintaining discipline.
- Transparent Judicial Review: The inclusion of a transparent process for judicial review, allowing an appeal to the Supreme Court, adds a layer of accountability and fairness to the decision-making process.
- Gradual Implementation: The effective date stipulation indicates a deliberate and gradual implementation, aligning with the Constitution (Eighteenth Amendment) Act, 2010.
Crux of Article 63(A) of the Constitution of Pakistan
The crux of Article 63(A) lies in its commitment to curbing defection within the parliamentary system. It establishes clear guidelines for actions deemed as defection, empowers the Party Head to make declarations, and provides for a transparent and judicially reviewable process. The article strikes a balance between party discipline and individual freedom, reflecting the evolving nature of Pakistan’s political landscape.
Conclusion: Article 63(A) of the Constitution of Pakistan
Overall, Article 63(A) serves as a crucial safeguard against defection, helping preserve parliamentary parties and the democratic process. It strikes a delicate balance between party discipline and individual freedom, with implementation reflecting Pakistan’s changing political landscape; Article 63(A) remains an effective instrument to uphold democratic representation as Pakistan matures democratically.