Islamabad: In a major jolt to Imran Khan, Pakistan Supreme Court on Thursday set aside the rejection of the no-confidence motion moved by the Opposition against his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government in the National Assembly.
The court also set aside subsequent steps including the dissolution of the National Assembly.
It observed that the prime minister's move to dissolve Parliament and call for early elections was "unconstitutional".
The court ordered the speaker to call the session of the assembly on April 9 at 10 am to organize the no-confidence vote.
A five-member bench of the apex court, led by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, delivered the verdict after five consecutive days of hearing out the Opposition, who are ready with the numbers to dethrone Khan.
During the hearing, Chief Justice Bandial noted deputy speaker's ruling is, prima facie, a violation of Article 95.
On Sunday, the no-trust motion against Imran Khan's government was dismissed by Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri. Known to be a loyalist of the Prime Minister, Mr Suri said the motion was against the Constitution and rules of Pakistan and cited security issues as Mr Khan's supporters hit the streets.
Minutes later, the Prime Minister had called for fresh elections and advised the President for the dissolution of the Assembly. The fresh election is to be held within 90 days, though earlier today, the Election Commission said it cannot be done before October. Terming the move "unconstitutional", the Opposition parties had challenged the Speaker's decision in the Supreme Court.
Under Article 58 of Pakistan's Constitution, the National Assembly cannot be dissolved if there is a no-confidence motion against the government.
After the Supreme Court's decision today, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the leader of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), tweeted, "Democracy is the best revenge! Jiya Bhutto! Jiya Awam! Pakistan Zindabad".
Shahbaz Sharif, the brother of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the man who might replace Imran Khan at the top post, tweeted: "An epoch-making day! Mubarak to all who supported defended & campaigned for the supremacy of the Constitution. Today, politics of lies, deceit & allegations has been buried. The people of Pakistan have won! God bless Pakistan".
Mr Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party effectively lost the majority in the 342-member assembly earlier this month when a key coalition partner said its seven lawmakers would vote with the opposition. More than a dozen lawmakers from the ruling party also indicated that they would cross the floor.
Mr Khan had claimed that it was a "conspiracy" against his government that was engineered by the US because he would not take the side of the US and Europe on global issues against Russia and China. The opposition, he alleged, was conspiring with Washington to remove him. His party claimed that the legislators who planned to change sides had been bribed.