Supreme Court revives Hamza’s interim Punjab CM status

SC issues written order; CJP says Prima facie Hamza’s seat of chief minister in jeopardy; Says it seems deputy speaker through his ruling violated SC judgement: SC issues notices to Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz and Punjab chief secretary: PML-Q lawyer says PA deputy speaker ignored role of parliamentary party and misread SC verdict on Article 63-A

By: News Desk
Published: 10:29 AM, 23 Jul, 2022
Supreme Court revives Hamza’s interim Punjab CM status
Caption: File photo.
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The Supreme Court has revived the interim status of Punjab chief minister Hamza Shehbaz during the hearing of a plea filed by Ch Pervaiz Elahi at its Lahore registry challenging the re-election of Hamza Shehbaz as chief minister of the province, reported 24NewsHD TV channel. 

During the marathon hearing on Saturday, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial remarked that it seemed that Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari issued his ruling in violation of the Supreme Court’s decision. 

The court ordered the deputy speaker to submit his written reply. With this, the court adjourned the hearing till Monday (July 25) adding that the next hearing would be held in Islamabad. 

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Umar Ata Bandial remarked it appeared as if the Punjab Assembly (PA) deputy speaker’s ruling was in violation of the apex court’s verdict. 

The court, on the occasion, ordered the deputy speaker to tell as to on what grounds he had given the ruling. 

The CJP also ordered the Punjab government to submit its detailed reply in the case. “Prima facie, Hamza Shehbaz’s election as Punjab chief minister is in jeopardy,” he added. 

Irfan Qadir Advocate, on the occasion, said there had been different interpretations of the SC judgments.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan remarked that the parliamentary leader’s role was definite and unambiguous. “While interpreting Article 63-A of the constitution, the apex court had laid down that votes of the MPAs going against the parliamentary leader’s instructions would not be counted,” he said, and asked, “What is ambiguous in this?     

Addressing the counsel for the deputy speaker, the CJP asked him to present the case’s record if his client could not appear in court.

SC issues 6-page written order of today's hearing

Later, the SC issued a written order for today's hearing at the request of Parvez Elahi. A 3-member full bench headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan issued a 6-page written order and said the parties should submit their answers by July 25, 2022, at 11 am while the hearing of the case will be held on Monday at one o'clock.

In the written order, the SC ordered the deputy speaker's lawyer to ensure the provision of relevant records, especially the letter of the chief of the Pakistan Muslim League Quaid (PML-Q) on which the ruling was given.

The SC said after the hearing the parties felt that they need time to respond and the court has noted that right now the parties are unable to justify the ruling of the Deputy Speaker so the current status of Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shahbaz is in deep danger and he cannot be called the elected Chief Minister.

In this situation, he cannot be called the elected Chief Minister and this is the same situation as it was on July 1, 2022. The province cannot be maintained without a chief minister and a cabinet so the court had ordered on 1st July with the will of the parties that Hamza Shehbaz will be a Trustee Chief Minister till the decision of this petition. On July 1, Hamza Shehbaz's powers as Chief Minister were limited.

Deputy Speaker did not turn up at SC

Earlier, Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari did not turn up at the Supreme Court which earlier summoned him in connection with Elahi's plea. The court also issued notices to CM Hamza and the Punjab chief secretary. 

Irfan Qadir Advocate appeared before the court on behalf of Deputy Speaker Mazari. When Qadir told the court that he would represent Mazari, the chief justice asked him whether he had got power of attorney from the deputy speaker. The lawyer answered in the affirmative. 

The Supreme Court resumed its hearing in courtroom No 1 after 4 pm. The court which was due to resume the hearing at 2:30 pm could not start it because the courtroom was jam-packed with people. Later, the court ordered to make video link arrangements in courtroom 3 where people could watch the court proceedings on the video screen.

A number of PTI leaders were present at the court, including Asad Umar, Fawad Chaudhry, Sibtain Khan, Usman Buzdar and Zain Qureshi.

Earlier, the apex court ordered the deputy speaker to appear before the court at 2:00 pm along with all the records regarding the election of the chief minister and his ruling. 

The attorney general of Pakistan and advocate general have also been summoned at the same time for the court’s assistance. However, when the court was told that the AGP had gone abroad, the chief justice of Pakistan said that instead of him, the additional attorney general could appear before the court

SC issues 3-page Interim Written Order

Later, the court issued a 3-page interim written order of the case after completing its first hearing which was held in the morning today. 

According to the written order, the matter was not about interpretation rather it was a matter of understanding. The court expects great assistance from the deputy speaker, CM Hamza and the chief secretary. 

The order further stated that the court was clueless about which part of the Supreme Court judgement was cited by the deputy speaker for issuing his ruling. 

According to the petitioner, as per the Supreme Court judgement, the parliamentary party could issue instructions to its members. But contrary that, the deputy speaker rejected votes on the instruction of the party head, the order said. 

The written order further stated that the next hearing of the case would be started at 2:30 pm today. 

But the court could not start hearing at 2:30 pm due to the great rush in the courtroom. 

As the court tried to resume the hearing, a large number of lawyers and workers of political parties thronged the courtroom. Even the glass of the courtroom door broke due to a large swarm of people over there. 

Seeing a sea of people in the courtroom, the Chief Justice of Pakistan was mulling to hear Elahi’s plea in another room. There was no space in the room even for lawyers.

Justice Ijazul Ahsan ordered that some of the people should leave the court to make room for the court people. He added that the court would try to hear the petition in another room.

Three-judge bench hears Elahi's petition

Earlier, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial on Saturday began hearing the petition filed by PTI and PML-Q against the election of the Punjab chief minister.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan earlier reached the Lahore Registry of Supreme Court. Justice Muneeb Akhtar is the third judge on the bench.

The apex court was hearing the PML-Q and PTI’s plea against the slashing of 10 votes of Q-League by the Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari that turned the tables in favour of Hamza Shehbaz against his rival Ch Pervaiz Elahi during chief minister’s election on Friday night.

PTI and Pervaiz Elahi’s counsel Barrister Ali Zafar appeared before the court to argue the case. He prayed to the court to stop Hamza from taking the oath. 

On this, CJP Bandial cautioned the lawyer remarking that it was a legal question that required understanding more than interpretation. 

The barrister said that the PA deputy speaker read out the apex court judgement while giving his ruling based on PML-Q President Shujaat Hussain’s letter. Mazari deducted 10 votes polled in favour of Ch Pervaiz Elahi, he added. 

Mr Zafar contended that the deputy ignored the role of the parliamentary party, adding that according to the SC verdict on Article 63-A, the members would cast their votes on the instruction of the parliamentary party. He continued that the parliamentary party issued a letter on July 21 stating that party members would vote for Ch Pervaiz Elahi. 

After hearing his arguments, the Supreme Court adjourned the hearing till 2 pm today. 

Pervaiz Elahi's petition

Pervaiz Elahi in his petition prayed to the court to strike down the deputy speaker’s ruling on vote count during the CM election.

He argued that through his illegal and unconstitutional ruling the deputy speaker did not count the PML-Q’s 10 votes. The ruling was also a violation of the Supreme Court order, he insisted.

Pervaiz Elahi said the deputy speaker’s ruling was also a violation of Article 63-A.

Late on Friday night, all 186 lawmakers of the PTI and PML-Q including their CM candidate Pervaiz Elahi reached the Supreme Court Lahore Registry to submit the petition.

Lahore Registry Deputy Registrar Ejaz Gorayra and other staff also rushed to their offices at midnight and received the petition filed by PML-Q lawyer Amir Saeed Rawn.

PTI leader Fawad Chaudhary's last night addressing the MPAs urged the Supreme Court to open the gates of justice to settle the matter.

Legislators outside the building of SC Lahore Registry chanted slogans against PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and Hamza Shehbaz.

Also, a number of PTI workers gathered at The Mall and at the Liberty Roundabout in Lahore where they chanted slogans.

Reporter: Malik Ashraf