SC orders rerun for Punjab CM slot on 22nd
Three-judge bench announces ruling as both parties develop consensus Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial says both sides were at odds for 3 months but matter resolved in apex court in 3 hours n Parvez Elahi hails SC decision n Hamza sees victory of PML-N candidates in by-election on 17th
ISLAMABAD/LAHORE – The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Friday ordered that the re-election for the slot of Punjab Chief Minister would be held on July 22.
A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Umar Ata Bandial heard the case. Other members of the bench included Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail.
Earlier, the PTI had filed a plea in the apex court seeking the annulment of the Lahore High Court’s decision that had ordered the Governor Punjab to hold re-counting for the Punjab Chief Minister’s slot on Friday at 4:00 pm.
The top court ruled that re-election for the Punjab chief minister would be held on July 22 after the rival parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), the Pakistan Muslim League Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) reached a consensus on the matter.
During the course of proceedings, Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz and Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, who is the PTI’s candidate for chief minister, also appeared before the court through video link as the PTI sought to defer the Punjab Assembly proceedings by seven days.
PTI’s counsel Babar Awan said the PTI had reservations against the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Upon this, Chief Justice Bandial said orders would be issued regarding the implementation of the election code of conduct.
He said the court would issue a general order and that the parties should not waste time on small matters.
Addressing Hamza Shehbaz and Parvez Elahi, the chief justice said it would be better if they did not make the case a family dispute. PTI lawyer Imtiaz Siddiqui said consultation was held with the Advocate General of Punjab and Hamza’s lawyer and a consensus was reached on Hamza staying the CM till July 17. Upon this, the chief justice remarked that the court was glad that both the parties had reached a consensus.
It was a success for both sides, which had been at odds for three months and the matter had finally been resolved in the apex court in three hours. He asked Hamza whether he had any intentions of rigging in the polls. Hamza replied that he would compete in the assembly and whoever was the suitable candidate would win. He was a political worker and had spent years in jail, and he would ensure free and fair elections were held, he added.
Chief Justice Bandial said the court would use words acceptable to both parties in its written order.
He then announced that the re-elections for the chief minister would be held on July 22, adding that Hamza would remain the CM until then. Justice Ahsan stated that the two parties should stop complicating the matter, adding that they were not here to create a constitutional crisis.
Following a political consensus achieved on the Punjab chief minister’s election during the court hearing on the PTI’s petitions on Friday, Speaker Punjab Assembly Ch Parvez Elahi showed a goodwill gesture towards Hamza Shehbaz by promising to maintain a peaceful atmosphere in the Assembly chambers in the days to come.
“The court has desired that the cordial atmosphere created in the court should also prevail in the Assembly with the same spirit. I think it is good for democracy and the politicians can avoid earning a bad name in public”, Parvez Elahi told reporters in Punjab Assembly after attending the court proceedings at Supreme Court’s Lahore Registry here.
He said the court directed him to ensure cordial relationship [with Hamza Shehbaz] and smooth Assembly proceedings according to the rules. “I told the honourable judges that I have been issuing production orders for Hamza Shehbaz in the past when he was in jail.”
Ch Parvez Elahi hailed the decision saying that a constitutional crisis lingering on for months has finally been settled through consensus. He also said that the matter has been settled as per their contention.
He further stated that the court had congratulated the political leadership and the lawyers for amicably sorting out a contentious matter continuing for months.
Giving details of the consensus agreement reached with Hamza Shehbaz in the court, he said there will be no police action and political victimisation, and everything will be settled according to the rules. “We will also have consultation over the issues”, he added.
He said it has also been settled that the election for the chief minister will be held at the Assembly chambers and not at any other place.
Earlier in the day, on the orders of Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari, heavy contingent of police was deployed in Punjab Assembly before the anticipated election of the chief minister. Over 1000 police officials performed security duties both inside and outside the Assembly premises.
Also, the court decision to conduct CM’s election on July 22 averted a possible clash inside the Assembly over the issue of who among the two assembly secretaries should be sitting with the deputy speaker in the house during chief minister’s election. It is relevant to mention here that there are two assembly secretaries in the Assembly at the moment–one appointed by the law department and other appointed by the Assembly speaker.
Through amendment in the relevant rules, the treasury-led Assembly has authorized acting Secretary Assembly Amir Habib to look after the Assembly secretariat. The Opposition-led Assembly, on the other hand, has reversed this arrangement by its legislation, and Mohammad Khan Bhatti is performing duties as Secretary Assembly.
Assembly sources said that this issue unless settled amicably will remain a cause of tension between the two sides.
Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz Friday pointed out that there was a difference of opinion between the PTI leadership and Ch Parvez Elahi during the Supreme Court proceedings on the chief minister’s election.
“It seemed there was no mutual coordination and unanimity of views between the PTI leaders and Parvez Elahi during the court proceedings”, he said while talking to the media at Punjab Assembly.
He said that Punjab province faced a number of constitutional crises in the last three months which deserved to be written in the Guinness Book of World Record. “Sometimes, CM’s election is postponed…sometimes the oath taking… and sometimes the governor is going to be appointed. Sometimes a summary is being rejected. And the way the Deputy Speaker was subjected to a fatal attack, everyone knows who was giving gestures of appreciation”, the CM remarked.
Hamza Shehbaz said that he was a pro-democratic political worker who had struggled for 27 years. He said he was advised not to give Rs 200 billion subsidy without the cabinet, but he did so without caring for the consequences.
“I subsidised 10 kg flour to Rs.160 and today a 10 kg flour bag is available at Rs. 490 across Punjab”. I solemnly say by fearing Allah Almighty that the masses will express their full confidence in the leadership of Nawaz Sharif on 17th July”, he said in reply to a question.
He lamented that Imran Niazi as prime minister had been misleading the masses on the issue of petrol prices as was making agreements with the IMF.
“Everyone knows that there was no electricity and PML-N brought 12000-megawatt electricity in the system. When we left the government in 2018 there was zero load shedding and the petrol prices were increased with a heavy heart. We want to save the country instead of the government. We came to save the country and take the political burden in order to improve the economy”, he maintained.
Answering a question, he said that the ban on the media had been lifted from the Punjab Assembly as he had promised.
To a question, Hamza Shehbaz denounced that Imran Niazi and his consorts spoke against the friendly countries and the institutions and it was highly intolerable. He stated that the reality behind international conspiracy had come to surface and now efforts were being made to conceal the thefts of Farah Gogi and Toshakhana.