Tuesday Jun 28 2022

Considering holding Punjab CM election again: LHC

Punjab CM Hamza Shahbaz. — AFP/File
Punjab CM Hamza Shahbaz. — AFP/File

  • LHC adjourns hearing of case pertaining to Hamza's election as Punjab chief minister.
  • Punjab advocate-general seeks a day's time to brief Punjab CM Hamza Shahbaz about situation.
  • PTI counsel seeks new election of CM after removing Hamza Shahbaz.

The Lahore High Court (LHC) is considering the polls for the Punjab chief minister's slot again, the court remarked on Tuesday while hearing the case challenging Hamza Shahbaz's election as the Punjab CM.

An LHC bench, headed by LHC Chief Justice Ameer Bhatti, resumed hearing on separate pleas — filed by PTI and PML-Q — against Hamza's election as CM.

During the hearing, the Punjab advocate-general sought a day's time to brief Punjab CM Hamza Shahbaz about the situation.

Meanwhile, PTI's lawyer Barrister Ali Zafar maintained that Hamza will no longer be the chief minister if the votes of 25 PTI dissidents are not counted.

"New elections should be staged after removing Hamza from his post," Barrister Zafar stressed, seeking at least 10 days time to hold polls again.

Court to give legal cover on reversing changes 

At this, the court remarked that the election of the Punjab chief minister should be held under the voter list as of April 16.

PTI's lawyer objected that the changes made so far cannot be reversed.

However, the court remarked that it will give legal cover on this matter.

At this, PTI's lawyer sought the inclusion of the five voters on the reserved seats as decided by the LHC in Monday's order.

"How could these voters be included when they weren't there on April 16?" Justice Tariq Saleem responded.

Earlier, the court said it wants to wrap up the case today.

'No way to avoid a political crisis'

While hearing the arguments from PTI's counsel, the court asked how a political crisis would be avoided if matters are taken back to the Punjab Assembly session on April 16 and polls are held again.

"In this case, the same presiding officer will hold the polls who was on duty during the April 16 polling," the court said.

Meanwhile, PTI's counsel maintained that the party has also challenged the election held with Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari.

However, the court remarked that the order of the LHC is available and it cannot be challenged.

Later, the court adjourned the hearing till 10am on June 29.

PTI's MPAs, including Sibtain Khan, maintained in the plea that the police forced the PTI and PML-Q 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.

PML-Q's plea

Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, who was also a candidate for the CM's slot, in his plea challenging Hamza's election, 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.

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.

Amid ruckus, Hamza Shahbaz elected Punjab CM

Hamza was elected as chief minister Punjab in a ruckus marred session of the Punjab Assembly on April 16, 2022.

Ahead of the vote, three PTI members of the Punjab Assembly were arrested for attacking Deputy Speaker Dost Mohammad Mazari as the party boycotted the session to elect the new chief minister.

Hamza was elected as the new chief minister with 197 votes. While his opponent, Elahi did not receive any votes as his party and PTI had boycotted the polls.