Punjab CM election: legal experts say Mazari’s ruling ‘illegal, void’

ISLAMABAD: Legal eagles are unanimous in their view that the parliamentary party and not the party head has the right to support any candidate for the election of Leader of the House under Article 63-A and the ruling of Deputy Speaker in the election of Hamza Shehbaz as Chief Minister Punjab may be declared null and void.

Speaking on the matter, seasoned jurist Barrister Aitzaz Ahsan said that one only needed to win with a simple majority in a run-of-election and hence Pervez Elahi has won the election and Shujaat Hussain’s decision is not binding if the party lawmakers are not communicated about the parliamentary party’s decision.

He said the Parliamentary Party has the right to decide the matter and not the party head. He added that the party head only has the move to prosecute any lawmaker(s), if the parliamentary party’s instructions have been violated. However, he said that if the party head feels that the lawmaker needs to be given benefit of doubt, he can drop his right to prosecute against the party’s lawmakers who violated the party’s parliamentary party.

He said that the parliamentary party needs to communicate clear instructions to the party lawmakers in clear terms and if he doesn’t receives any instruction, he cannot be held accountable for violating the party instruction. He added that in the election of Hamza Shehbaz, the parliamentary party had held its meeting and decided the matter.

However, he said that Asif Zardari can’t be blamed for the situation and rather it was Chaudhry Shujaat to be blamed for the chaos in his party. He said the situation warranted immediate general elections.

Asked whether the party head needs to release instructions to all the party lawmakers, Aitzaz Ahsan said that the direction needed to be released publicly and not to only sent to the Deputy Speaker of Punjab Assembly. He said that if the instructions have not been sent to the party lawmakers, the ruling of Deputy Speaker would be void and illegal. Aitzaz said that the PML-Q lawmakers can rename under a new party and Chaudhry Shujaat can do nothing against them.

Barrister Ali Zafar claimed that the ruling of the deputy speaker was “unconstitutional”, adding that the SC will soon issue a verdict on the matter. He said that when it came to casting a vote of no-confidence, the party head had no role to play, adding that the parliamentary party is the first one to decide who to vote for.

Zafar said that at the time of the no-confidence motion, PTI Chairman Imran Khan had written a letter to the National Assembly speaker, while notices to the defecting members were issued by the general secretary of the party.

Barrister Ahmed Pansota said that in his view, under Article 63 (A), the party head’s directions cannot be disregarded.

“In today’s case, PML-Q’s party head was apparently Sajid Bhatti, who had directed members to vote for Pervez Elahi. Therefore, the deputy speaker’s ruling appeared to have been legally flawed and the 10 votes of PML-Q members have been wrongly pushed aside,” he said. He added that since the candidate for the CM’s post (Elahi) was from the same party, how could the party members vote against him, especially in light of the recent SC judgement.

About the application of Article 63(A), Pansota opined that the law concerned is being widely misquoted. “I, therefore, think that if the PTI approaches the SC, a verdict will be decided in favour of the Elahi.”

Eminent jurist Salman Akram Raja posted a tweet at social media blogging site, Twitter, saying that the Party head can’t stop the members of the parliamentary party from voting in accordance with the decision of the parliamentary party.

“Ar 63A is clear. Some manipulations of the Constitution are sad, this one is just silly,” he added.

Former Attorney General of Pakistan Anwar Mansoor Khan said that Parliamentary Party and not the Party head, has the right to decide to support any candidate while the Party head has powers to communicate to the Election Commission if any party lawmaker violated the decision of the parliamentary party.

He said that since Chaudhry Shujaat’s letter was sent once the election process started, the party lawmakers were not bound to follow the decision and Deputy Speaker could not take any adverse decision against election of Pervez Elahi.

He said that the Supreme Court is likely to rule in favour of Pervez Elahi and Deputy Speaker’s ruling may be termed null and void.

A senior Supreme Court advocate told that the Supreme Court judgement supports decision of deputy speaker but the government would have to establish the fact that Chaudhry Shujaat’s letter had been received and conveyed to the parliamentary party before the election as the party head is Shujaat. He said that Parliamentary leader is not mentioned in Article 63-A and rather is parliamentary party and one needs to see whether the decision was taken by the parliamentary party with majority.

President PILDAT Ahmed Bilal Mehboob also posted a tweet, saying that according to Constitution Article 63A(b), Direction to vote for or against a candidate is issued to party legislators by parliamentary party in a legislature; & not by party head!

“So it is PMLQ parliamentary party in Punjab Assembly which directs its members & not Ch. Shujaat,” he maintained.

Mian Abrar
Mian Abrar
The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He tweets as @mian_abrar and also can be reached at [email protected]

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