Pleas against Punjab CM election: LHC seeks replies from Hamza, parties

Shahid Hussain
Saturday, May 21, 2022

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday issued notices to Hamza Shehbaz and other respondents, seeking their reply over PTI and PMLQ’s pleas challenging Hamza’s election as the Punjab chief minister.

A bench, headed by LHC Chief Justice Ameer Bhatti, conducted the hearing on separate pleas — filed by PTI and PMLQ — against Hamza Shehbaz's election as the Punjab chief minister. During the hearing, PTI lawyer Barrister Ali Zafar and others appeared before the court.

Presenting his arguments, Barrister Zafar maintained that election for the Punjab CM was held on April 16 as per the court's directives and Hamza took oath as the CM. However, the Supreme Court ruled, while giving interpretation on Article 63(A) of the Constitution, dissidents' votes cannot be counted, he added.

Justice Bhatti inquired from when the apex court's ruling will be applicable. “It has to be seen if the actions that have been taken before the SC’s ruling can be nullified or not,” the judge remarked.

The court accepted thepleas for hearing and issued notices to the parties — seeking their reply — for May 25. PTI’s MPAs, including Sibtain Khan, maintained in the plea that the police forced the PTI and PMLQ out of the Punjab Assembly to prevent them from exercising their right to vote at the behest of Hamza, followed by riots and chaos, after which Hamza was declared the Punjab CM.

They also questioned the presence of cops inside the provincial assembly. They said the secretary of the Assembly had prevented the entry of non-members, but alleged that the deputy secretary had called 300 non-members inside.

The petitioners alleged that bogus voting had been done in the election, indicating that PTI MPA Ahsan Saleem Baryar did not cast his vote but his name was on the voters list. They requested that the election of Hamza Shahbaz as the Punjab chief minister be declared null and void.

Meanwhile, Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, who was also a candidate for the CM's slot, filed a separate plea challenging Hamza’s election. The plea nominates Hamza and other individuals concerned as respondents in the case.

Elahi has maintained that Hamza does not have the number of votes required to be elected as the chief minister in light of the Supreme Court’s order. In a 3:2 split decision, three judges of the apex court — Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, and Justice Munib Akhtar — agreed that dissident members’ votes should not be counted. But Justice Jamal Mandokhail and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel disagreed with the verdict.

Elahi claimed that Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari declared Hamza CM-elect unjustly. The plea requests the court to restrict Hamza from working as the Punjab chief minister till a final decision in this case. It also seeks cancellation of Hamza’s oath as the CM and orders for a new election for the CM slot.