LAHORE: Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court Mohammad Ameer Bhatti on Wednesday ordered Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Mohammad Mazari to conduct the chief minister’s election on the previously fixed date of April 16.

The chief justice also set aside the recent notification, issued by Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi whereby the powers of the deputy speaker had been withdrawn, for being contrary to Article 53(3) of the Constitution by virtue of which deputy speaker in absence of the speaker attained the status of speaker.

Speaker Pervaiz Elahi and Leader of Opposition in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz are in the run for the chief ministership after the resignation of Sardar Usman Buzdar.

A short order issued by the LHC chief justice said: “It is directed that the Deputy Speaker on the date fixed i.e. April 16, 2022 shall proceed to elect the Chief Minister in terms of sub-Article (3) of Article 130 of the Constitution read with Rule 20 of the Rules of Procedure and all other enabling provisions and powers in this behalf.”

The order passed on the petitions of opposition leader and deputy speaker further said the deputy speaker and all other persons, including the provincial government, would act impartially, justly and fairly to ensure the supremacy of the Constitution.

The chief justice declined a request of Mr Hamza for an early session, which has already been scheduled by the deputy speaker for April 16 to elect CM. He ordered that all the respondents, including the provincial government, shall not, in any manner, hinder, obstruct, or interfere with any member of the provincial assembly who wish to attend the session and to cast their votes for the election of the new chief minister in terms of the short order issued by the Supreme Court on April 7.

The LHC directed the secretary and other officials of the assembly to provide the required assistance under legal obligation. The secretary of the assembly was also directed to ensure the completion of renovation work of the provincial assembly before 11pm of April 15 and should be made available for its use for the members of the assembly on April 16 in a respectable manner.

With these directions, the CJ disposed of the petitions saying reasons would be recorded in a detailed order.

The counsel for the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, the party of Speaker Elahi, announced to file an intra-court appeal against the restoration of the deputy speaker’s powers by the court.

Chief Justice Bhatti had reserved the judgement on Tuesday after hearing lengthy arguments of the lawyers from all the parties in the case.

In their arguments, the counsel representing the PML-Q and Speaker Elahi had opposed the maintainability of the petitions pleading that the court had no jurisdiction to order the assembly to conduct election of the chief minister. They had said the parliament and the judiciary could not interfere in the constitutional jurisdiction of each other. The counsel had argued that the alleged non-implementation of the assembly rules was an internal matter of the assembly.

Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2022

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