Elections for Punjab CM slot to be held on July 22: SC

141

Hamza, Elahi appear before court via video link

After an hours-long hearing on the PTI’s petition against the Lahore High Court’s order to recount the votes cast in the April 16 Punjab chief minister election on Friday, and conduct a second round of voting if required, the Supreme Court said that this process would now take place on July 22.

The apex court issued the verbal order as a three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, took up the petition filed by PTI.

The LHC had passed its order on Thursday while hearing the PTI and the PML-Q’s pleas against Hamza’s election and oath-taking, requiring the Punjab Assembly to convene Friday at 4pm to conduct the recounting exercise, excluding the votes of PTI dissident lawmakers. According to the high court, if the required majority for Hamza — which is 186 votes in the 371-member strong house — to stay the CM is not secured after recounting, which is a certainty after the exclusion of 25 votes cast by dissident PTI lawmakers, the election will be held again under Article 130(4).

According to Article 130(4), in the second round of voting, a member will not require 186 votes but simply needs a majority of those “present and voting” to be elected the chief minister. Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz and Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervez Elahi appeared before the court via video link as the PTI sought to defer the PA proceedings by seven days.

Earlier, Justice Ahsan remarked that it was clear the election could not be held today. However, he did not agree with the PTI’s request for a seven-day extension on account of its MPAs being out of the country. He went on to say that if there was no objection to Hamza continuing as CM, the only point of contention was the timeframe.

One of the lawyers present during the hearing contended that it would be more appropriate to hold the CM election after the by-elections on 20 Punjab Assembly seats, scheduled for July 17. To this, Justice Ahsan said the argument had weightage.

Justice Ahsan added that under the dissenting note in the LHC verdict, one more day could be given for holding the assembly session. “There should be an appropriate time for a revote,” he said.

One of PTI’s lawyers, Imtiaz Siddiqui, pointed out that the Election Commission of Pakistan had not yet notified lawmakers on the reserved seats in the PA. At this, Justice Ahsan remarked that “the world would not come to an end” if the notification was not issued.

Subsequently, the chief justice summoned Hamza and Elahi, adjourning the hearing till 4pm. When the hearing resumed, CJP Bandial, while addressing Hamza and Elahi, said that the PTI’s stance was that adequate time had not been given for the election. “Another question is who will run the province if the court allows for more time,” the CJP said. According to the Constitution, a province can’t be run without a chief minister, he said. CJP Bandial also asked Elahi whether he had any objections to Hamza remaining chief minister. At this, Elahi said that ever since Hamza had been elected CM, police were “in control” of the provincial assembly.

 

Previous article‘Very good decision’: Hamza, Elahi accept SC ruling
Next articleControlling loadshedding very difficult challenge: Shehbaz