The Lahore High Court (LHC) directed on Tuesday that the president and Punjab governor be made respondents in a case related to Hamza Shehbaz’s election as the province’s chief minister.
A five-member bench, headed by Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan, and also comprising Justice Shahid Jamil Khan, Justice Shehram Sarwar Chaudhry, Justice Sajid Mahmood Sethi and Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh, issued the directives while hearing a set of petitions filed by the PTI, PML-Q and Munir Ahmed, a citizen.
Hamza was elected as the Punjab chief minister on April 16, during a provincial assembly session that was marred by mayhem. He received a total of 197 votes — 11 more than the required 186 — including 25 from dissident PTI MPAs that were crucial for his victory.
Questions have been raised on the validity of his election since the Supreme Court said in a May 17 verdict that the votes of defecting lawmakers were not to be counted during a chief minister’s election and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) subsequently de-seated the PTI’s 25 dissident MPAs from the Punjab Assembly under Article 63-A of the COnstitution, which concerns the disqualification of lawmakers for defection.
The PTI had challenged Hamza’s election in the LHC on May 19, following which the court had sought the chief minister’s reply on the matter.
When the hearing resumed on Tuesday, PTI’s counsel Azhar Siddique argued that the Constitution did not allow for the National Assembly speaker to administer oath to a chief minister.
Hamza was administered oath of office by NA Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on April 30 on the LHC’s orders after then-governor Omar Sarfraz Cheema’s repeated refusal to do so.
The LHC had issued the order on a third petition filed by Hamza after orders on the first two petitions were not implemented.
Siddique argued that if the orders on the first two petitions were not implemented, Hamza should have filed one for contempt of court instead of a third petition.
Meanwhile, Deputy Attorney General Nasar Ahmad requested the court to make the federal government a respondent in the case instead of the Punjab governor.