SC declares Pervaiz Elahi as Punjab CM; annuls PA deputy speaker’s ruling
PPP, Mazari's lawyers boycott court proceedings: CJP Justice Ata Bandial remarks they wanted to disposed of the case as soon as possible: Says no legal reasons were given for seeking full court formation
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The Supreme Court of Pakistan Tuesday annulled the ruling of Punjab Assembly’s deputy speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari’s ruling during the run-off election of the Punjab Chief Minister, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.
On July 22, Mazari rejected the votes of PML-Q members in favour of Ch Pervaiz Elahi during the provincial chief minister election citing a letter from PML-Q’s head Ch Shujaat Hussain under Article 63-A of the constitution.
The apex court in its 11-page short order accepted the plea of Parvaiz Elahi and pronounced him as Punjab chief minister.
SC said in its decision that the formation of the Punjab cabinet and election of Hamza Shehbaz Sharif as chief minister was illegal. The court ordered the Punjab governor to arrange for the oath of Pervaiz Elahi as Punjab Cm and took his oath at 11:00pm. It added that if he refuses to perform his duties then President Arif Alvi will administer the oath. It also declared that any appointments made by Hamza Shahbaz are illegal.
The court also ordered the Punjab chief secretary to immediately issue notification of Pervaiz Elahi as Punjab chief minister.
The court further had announced the verdict will be pronounced today at 6:00 pm. “The decision will be out at 5:45 pm or 6:00 pm,” Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial said. However, the announcement was delayed and it has been later announced that the decision will be delivered on 7:30pm, which also could not materialise and the verdict was given after a lengthy wait at *:55 pm.
Justice Ata Bandial apologised for delay in announcing the verdict.
Justice Ata Bandial also thanked all the lawyers for their submissions in the case.
Earlier, the Supreme Court on Tuesday resumed hearing on Punjab Assembly Speaker Pervaiz Elahi’s plea regarding the election of the chief minister amid a boycott of the court proceedings by the ruling coalition partners.
A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprised of Justice Ejaz-ul-Ahsan and Justice Muneeb Akhtar was hearing the opposition parties’ petition against the ruling of Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Mazari regarding the election of the chief minister.
At the beginning of Tuesday’s hearing in Islamabad, Justice Ata Bandial remarked that the bench wanted to dispose of the case as soon as possible to end the governance crisis in the province.
Irfan Qadir's boycott
Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker's lawyer Irfan Qadir and PPP's counsel boycotted the court proceedings saying his client has directed him to do so.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) counsel Farooq H. Naek declined to participate in the court proceedings.
He, along with Irfan Qadir, the lawyer for Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari, stayed in the courtroom and watched the proceedings.
Reiterating that lawyers of the defendants had failed to satisfy the Supreme Court (SC) as to why the full-court bench should be formed to hear the petition filed jointly by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) against the ruling given by the Punjab Assembly deputy speaker in the chief minister election case, Justice Ata Bandial observed that it was the parliamentary party that gave direction to the MPAs to vote while the party head could take action in the event of violation of that direction.
No legal reason given for full court
The CJP added that the apex court had already decided that there was no need to constitute the full-court bench since no legal reason had been given for that. "It is clearly laid down in the constitution that it is the parliamentary party that has to give instructions to the MPAs,” he said, adding that formation of a full-court bench amounted to dragging the case on since required number of judges were not available for the purpose until the second week of September.
CJP Bandial went on to add that he and fellow judges had made this clear to lawyers of the respondents that the constitution did not allow obstructions in governance.
21st Amendment case sought
The CJP further said that some lawyers had given reference of the 21st Amendment case in their arguments. “In that case, an observation was made that a party head could give instructions to the lawmakers as to which candidate they should vote for,” he said, adding in the cases of interpretation of Article 63-A it was evident that it was the parliamentary party which had the final say and the MPs were bound to act on its instructions.
“In his remark in that case, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed had said that the MPs should listen to their party head before casting their votes,” Justice Bandial recalled, adding, “But that was the opinion given by eight out of 17 judges.”
The question here was, he added, whether the SC was bound to follow the opinion of these eight judges, which was not of majority of judges on the full-bench.
The CJP counselled and asked the parties boycotting the court proceedings to show ‘grace’, and listen to the hearing.
He said that those who knew him were fully aware that took his job seriously.
Barrister Ali Zafar, counsel for Punjab Assembly Speaker and a candidate for the office of chief minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, said that Justice Jawad Khawaja, in the 21st Amendment case, had declared Article 63-A contrary to the Constitution since, in his opinion, it barred the lawmakers from voting for the candidate of their choice.
“However, I don’t agree with his viewpoint,” the barrister said.
Party head and parliamentary party
CJP Bandial said that he was pleased to see the defendants sitting on his right and listening to the hearing despite boycotting the court proceedings. “Thanks God, at least they have shown little bit of grace,” he remarked.
Counsel for Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, on the occasion, said that parliamentary party and the party head were two different things.
Justice Ijazul Ahsan said that as per the constitution, the party head ensured implementation on the directives of the parliamentary party.
While the chief justice, on the other hand, was of the view that the parliamentary party did not take any decision on its own. “It is rather a political party’s decision that is conveyed to the parliamentary party,” he opined.
Justice Ijaz went on to say that in the cases of 18th and 21st amendments, only sections of article 63-A were discussed, and the role of a party head was not fully explored in the past during the interpretation of article 63-A.
Counsel for PA speaker, on the occasion, said that the apex court could order changes in the law after reviewing the constitution. “The SC can also amend its own decision,” he opined.
The CJP, however, was of the view that frequently changing opinion by a judge was not a good precedent. “The decision could only be changed in case there is a solid reason for that,” he added.
Additional attorney general said that he wanted to assist the court.
Welcoming the offer, the chief justice said that anybody could assist so that chances of error could be eliminated.
Directing Imtiaz Siddique Advocate, counsel for the PTI, to assist, Justice Bandial said that yesterday counsel for Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, PML-Q head, had said that the copies of the notice had been sent to all the party MPAs before voting in the election for the Punjab chief minister.
Siddique Advocate replied that all record of the provincial assembly’s session convened for the Punjab CM’s election was available.
PTI’s counsel further said that instructions from the party head should be communicated to the MPAs on time. “Moments before giving his ruling, the PA deputy speaker had said he received a letter from Chaudhry Shujaat,” he added.
Justice Ijaz asked the question now was whether the letter had been read out at the parliamentary party meeting.
Addressing the lawyers representing the defendants, the CJP said it appeared as if they were sitting in the United Nations as observers since they were not participating.
Ahmed Owais, another lawyer representing PTI in the case, said that the issue of Punjab CM election had been lingering on for the past three months. “And all PML-Q MPAs were well aware as to which candidate they were going to vote for on the election day,” he said, and added, “It would be my request to the SC to keep in view all the aspects before pronouncing the decision.”
The CJP said that defendants’ lawyers had given references of some of the court verdicts.
Barrister Ali Zafar said that he would like to comment on these decisions.
He went on to say that under article 63-A, the party head who would take action against the party’s turncoats.
The chief justice, on the occasion, reminded him that the defending parties were of the view that it was the party head who controlled the parliamentary party.
Strongly disagreeing with that viewpoint, Barrister Zafar said categorically that there was no question of control of the party head over the parliamentary party.
No need for further explanation of article 63-A: CJP
Barrister Zafar further said that all over the world, parliamentary party worked in the same fashion. “UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had resigned on the insistence of the parliamentary party,” he informed.
A party head, on the other hand, he argued, could not dictate the party members.
Justice Ijaz remarked that if any member of the parliament (MP) or MPA did not want to vote on party lines, then he or should better resign and get reelected.
Chief Justice, on the occasion, said although party leader’s role was important, but it was the parliamentary party head on whose instructions the MPAs would vote.
The CJP said that the verdict given by the apex court on the Punjab CM election on July 1, 2022, was given after taking all parties to the case into confidence. “Can anybody, including Trustee Punjab CM Hamza Shehbaz, object to that decision now?” he questioned to which Barrister Ali Zafar replied in negative.
“After all, Hamza had agreed to hold free and transparent by-elections on 20 Punjab Assembly seats on July 17, 2022,” Justice Bandial recalled.
Justice Ijaz remarked that water had passed under the bridge. “The SC had been given the assurance that the by-polls would be held,” he added.
Coalition partners' announcement
On Monday, the ruling coalition partners had announced boycotting proceedings after the Supreme Court rejected their request for constituting a full court on petitions related to the Punjab chief minister’s re-election and a review of its interpretation of Article 63-A.
Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) President Fazlur Rehman and other leaders had refused to budge over the full court demand during a joint news conference in Islamabad. "We will not appear before this three-judge bench," Fazl said, insisting on interference in government affairs must be avoided. "We made the full bench request in accordance with the law," he stressed.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had said the full court demand was for the dignity of the judiciary.
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had said that the full court decision would be acceptable for all and now it is up to the top court.
Earlier, the three-judge bench had turned down the plea from the ruling parties and the lawyers' bodies to form a full court to hear the case about the Punjab Assembly deputy speaker’s ruling along with the review petition of Article 63A.
Reporter: Amanat Gishkori