SC rules election of CM Punjab to take place on 22nd

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: The Supreme Court Friday announced that the election for the Punjab chief minister’s slot would be held on July 22 – after the provincial government, PTI, and PML-Q reached a consensus on the matter.

The PTI had filed a plea in the top court seeking the annulment of Lahore High Court’s (LHC) decision that had ordered the governor to hold a vote recount of the Punjab Chief Minister’s election after excluding 25 dissident PTI members.

During today’s hearing, after much back and forth, Punjab Assembly Speaker Pervaiz Elahi – a contender for the CM’s slot – had initially agreed that Hamza Shehbaz could remain the chief minister till July 17, but the PTI disagreed.

In a bid to break the deadlock, the top court directed Elahi to speak to PTI Chairman Imran Khan and come up with a solution – as it adjourned the hearing for the third time.

After the hearing resumed, all the parties agreed that Hamza would remain the chief minister till July 17. In a 4-1 split decision a day earlier, the LHC wrapped up PTI’s case against Hamza’s election to the CM’s slot, while ordering recount of the votes cast during the Punjab chief executive’s election but with the exclusion of 25 PTI dissidents’ votes, in line with the apex court’s interpretation of Article 63(A).

But in its bid to remove Hamza from the post of Punjab chief minister, PTI had earlier in the day approached the SC to challenge the orders of the LHC to hold a vote recount on the CM poll – which was held on April 16.

The SC accepted the plea for an immediate hearing earlier in the day and formed a three-member bench. The hearing was headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, while Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail.

IMRAN ACCEPTED HAMZA AS PUNJAB CM UNTIL RE-ELECTION.

Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan Friday accepted Hamza Shehbaz as Punjab chief minister until re-election.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan had summoned Hamza Shehbaz and Speaker of Punjab Assembly Pervaiz Elahi in a plea filed by PTI challenging the Lahore High Court (LHC) verdict for the recount of votes for the election of Chief Minister Punjab.

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan comprising Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Jamal Mandokhel heard the petition. At one point, PTI’s counsel Babar Awan said that PTI had reservations against the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Justice Bandial, however, said that orders would be issued regarding the implementation of the election code of conduct. He stated that the court would issue a general order and that the parties should not waste time on small matters. “It would be better if you don’t make the case a family dispute,” he told Elahi and Hamza.

The CJP said that both sides had been at odds for three months and the matter had finally been resolved in the apex court in three hours. He then asked: “CM sahab, do you have any intentions of rigging (the polls)?” To this, Hamza replied that he would compete in the assembly and whoever is the suitable candidate would win.

“I am a political worker. I have spent years in jail. We will ensure free and fair elections are held,” he said. Subsequently, Justice Bandial said that the court would use words acceptable to both parties in its written order. He then announced that the elections for the chief minister would be held on July 22.

‘Likely that Punjab CM election won’t happen today’

Earlier, Justice Ahsan remarked that it was clear the election could not be held today. However, he did not agree with the PTI’s request for a seven-day extension on account of its MPAs being out of the country. He went on to say that if there was no objection to Hamza continuing as CM, the only point of contention was the timeframe.

One of the lawyers present during today’s hearing contended that it would be more appropriate to hold the CM election after the by-elections on 20 Punjab Assembly seats, scheduled for July 17. To this, Justice Ahsan said the argument had weightage.

Justice Ahsan noted that as per the dissenting note in the LHC verdict, one more day could be given for holding the assembly session. “There should be an appropriate time for a revote,” he said.

One of PTI’s lawyers, Imtiaz Siddiqui, pointed out that the ECP had not yet notified PTI lawmakers on the reserved seats in the PA. At this, Justice Ahsan remarked that “the world would not come to an end” if the notification was not issued.

Subsequently, the chief justice summoned Hamza and Elahi, adjourning the hearing till 4pm.

HAMZA, ELAHI APPEAR BEFORE SC

When the hearing resumed, CJP Bandial, while addressing Hamza and Elahi, said that the PTI’s stance was that adequate time had not been given for the election. “Another question is who will run the province if the court allows for more time,” the CJP said.

According to the Constitution, a province can’t be run without a chief minister, he said. CJP Bandial also asked Elahi whether he had any objections to Hamza remaining chief minister. At this, Elahi said that ever since Hamza had been elected CM, police were “in control” of the provincial assembly.

Justice Ahsan said that there was no end in sight to the constitutional crisis in the province and called for solving it according to the Constitution.

CJP Bandial observed that the court was informed Elahi did not object to Hamza remaining the CM until the local government polls. However, Elahi contended that he couldn’t trust Hamza in the prevailing situation.

Justice Ahsan said that once the house was complete, the candidate who had the majority would become the CM. “We have summoned both of you (Hamza and Elahi) over this point.”

The second matter at hand is the lack of time in conducting the election, Justice Ahsan continued, adding that time could be provided for members within Pakistan to make it to the session.

Subsequently, Elahi said that if Hamza wanted to stay the CM till July 17, he should “determine his powers”. “He can stay the chief minister but he should not harass [our] assembly members,” he said.

Justice Ahsan replied by saying that the courts were open if any violence took place in the PA. During the hearing, Awan urged the court to give orders for conducting free and fair elections. “It should also give instructions for notifying the reserved seats in the PA,” he said, adding that Hamza was not acceptable as the CM under any circumstances.

However, Justice Ahsan said that the court didn’t want to create a “constitutional vacuum”. He remarked that Elahi, the PTI’s ally, said one thing while the party said another.

He also observed that a run-off election would be conducted after two days. “Whoever has the majority in two days will become the chief minister.”

Awan said that a decision should be taken under Article 187 of the Constitution, which empowers the Supreme Court to issue all such directions, orders and decrees, as it deems necessary, and secure the attendance of any person and production of any document for doing complete justice in any matter before it.

“The court should give orders for a third person to hold clear and transparent elections,” he said. However, CJP Bandial observed that Article 187 was not applicable in this case. “Three to five days would be appropriate for [holding] the run-off election,” Justice Bandial said. He went on to say that there were two options on the table: run-off elections in two days or Hamza remaining the CM till July 17.

“You are saying the CM should immediately be removed,” he told Awan. “Alternative arrangements can be made for two or three days, but not for long periods.”

Awan sought time from the court to discuss the matter with the PTI’s senior leadership and Chairman Imran. The court, subsequently, adjourned the hearing for half an hour, granting the PTI time for consultation.

PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said that Hamza Shehbaz was not an elected chief minister and they would embrace him as the acting chief minister.

However, the chief justice disagreed with it and said they would use the words which are acceptable to both parties.

Elahi has also requested the court to reschedule the re-election until after the July 17 by-elections to 20 PA seats. However, PTI counsel Babar Awan said that PTI does not agree with the proposal advanced by Elahi and was not ready to accept Hamza as chief minister until after July 17.

ELAHI SATISFIED WITH SC VERDICT

Pakistan Muslim League – Quaid (PMLQ) leader and Punjab Assembly speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi on Friday while expressing satisfaction over Supreme Court’s verdict on the Punjab Chief Minister election said that what we wanted has been accepted by the court.

Talking to the media, Elahi said that a fair decision has come today decision, what we wanted has been accepted by the apex court and the session of the Punjab Assembly will be held as per the rules. He further said that Hamza Shehbaz has assured that political interference and police will not be used during any session, adding that the house will be completed by July 22, and then elections will be held.

“The election will be held on July 22 only in the Punjab assembly building, not at any other place,” he added.

 

 

 

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