Acceptance of Buzdar's resignation as Punjab CM challenged in LHC

Published April 20, 2022
This file photo shows former Punjab chief minister Usman Buzdar. — Twitter/File
This file photo shows former Punjab chief minister Usman Buzdar. — Twitter/File

The acceptance of former Punjab chief minister Usman Buzdar's resignation by ex-governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar was challenged in the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday.

The constitutional petition, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, was filed by Advocate Nadeem Sarwar. The province of Punjab, Buzdar, Sarwar, Governor Omer Sarfraz Cheema, PTI Chairman Imran Khan and newly elected Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz were named as respondents.

According to the petition, Buzdar had tendered his resignation on March 28 and had addressed it to then-prime minister Imran Khan.

It contended that Sarwar had accepted Buzdar's resignation even though it was not addressed to him which was a violation of Article 130(8) of the Constitution that stated: "The chief minister may, by writing under his hand addressed to the governor, resign from his office."

The petition argued that since Sarwar did not have the "jurisdiction" to accept the resignation, Buzdar was still holding the office of chief minister.

It added that after the "illegal acceptance" of the resignation letter, Hamza was elected the new chief minister.

"It is trite law that when the base of any action or order is illegal then the whole superstructure [built] thereupon cannot be sustained ... hence, the conduct of election of chief minister and actions taken by [Hamza] are illegal, coram non judice and non est," it stated.

The petition added that constitutionally Buzdar was still holding the office of chief minister while the assumption of the office by Hamza was "illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional".

The petition called on the court to declare Sarwar's acceptance of Buzdar's resignation to be without lawful authority. It also called on the court to restrain Hamza from taking charge as the chief minister till the petition is decided.

The petition will be taken up tomorrow. The registrar's office has raised objections regarding the maintainability of the petition and the fact that a stamp paper was not attached.

Hamza has yet to be sworn in since his election, as Governor Omar Sarfraz Cheema has refused to administer the oath.

Buzdar had presented his resignation to former premier Imran on March 28 after a delegation of senior lawmakers had submitted a no-trust motion against him with Punjab Assembly Secretary Muhammad Khan Bhatti on the same day.

Following Buzdar's resignation, the PTI had announced the PML-Q's Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi as its candidate for Punjab chief minister.

The move had come as the ruling party had stepped up efforts to ensure the support of its allies ahead of a no-trust vote against Imran, against the backdrop of multiple PTI allies joining the opposition.

On April 1, Sarwar had formally accepted Buzdar's resignation and summoned a session of the Punjab Assembly for the election of a new provincial chief executive. Two days later, Sarwar was removed from the post and replaced with Cheema.

Over the weekend, Hamza was elected the new chief minister after garnering 197 votes during a Punjab Assembly session marred by violence.

The governor is refusing to administer oath to Hamza saying that the Punjab Assembly secretary’s report, the LHC’s instructions and “the facts presented” to him raised questions about the validity of the chief minister’s election. He had also sought a legal opinion on Buzdar's resignation.

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