Punjab Chief Minister-elect Hamza Shehbaz moved the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday to direct Senate Chairperson Sadiq Sanjrani to administer oath to him, owing to "unconstitutional, illegal and unfounded inactions" on part of President Arif Alvi and the province's governor, Omer Sarfraz Cheema.
This is the second time that Hamza — who was elected as Punjab's chief executive on April 16 during a provincial assembly session marred by mayhem — has sought the LHC's intervention on the matter as the Punjab governor continues to refrain from administering oath to him, questioning the validity of his election, and President Alvi is yet to nominate another individual to perform the duty, as directed by the high court earlier.
In the petition filed on Monday, Hamza contended that the president's and governor's non-compliance with the court order and Constitution regarding the administration of oath to him had "rendered them unable to discharge their constitutional obligation".
He added that their "inability and unwillingness" was based on "sheer mala fide", adding that nomination of another person to perform the duty was also being "withheld for irrelevant political considerations".
The PML-N leader termed the "unconstitutional inaction" and non-compliance with the court order a "contraption of abuse of command of the Constitution and process of law".
"Such inactions are evidently inchoate; arbitrary; unreasonable; irrational and without jurisdiction," he argued.
In this connection, he referred to the chaotic environment that eventually led to the election of the chief minister following the acceptance of Usman Buzdar's resignation by then-governor Chaudhry Sarwar on April 1, and highlighted that the office of CM was lying vacant since then.
And "crucial decisions are being delayed at the expense of province’s 110 million citizens because people holding constitutional offices in the centre and province have chosen to act for irrelevant and mala fide considerations, pursuing audacious party lines and instructions, instead of adhering to constitutional and legal commands", he added.
It was in these circumstances that Hamza had filed a petition on April 8 for the holding of CM's election and the LHC had subsequently directed Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari to conduct the election on April 16, the petition said.
It added that following the election on April 16, Hamza had won the contest, securing 197 votes out of total 371. But the Punjab governor opted not to administer oath to Hamza, which was contradictory to Article 130(5) of the Constitution and a previous LHC order in another case, the petition said, adding that the governor's decision was based on "figments of his own illegal and unconstitutional imagination".
The petition recalled that since the governor's decision was violative of the Constitution and Hamza's fundamental rights, as well as those of people of the province, the chief minister-elect had again approached the LHC, which had directed President Alvi to nominate another person to administer oath to Hamza.
It was also stated in the petition that Hamza had come to know through social media that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who is also his father, had advised the president first on April 23 and again on April 24 to nomination Senate Chairperson Sadiq Sanjrani to administer oath to the chief minister-elect, but to no avail.
The petition further said that the president and governor "cannot act on their own initiative but must act in accordance with the advice of the prime minister" unless in situations where the Constitution provides for them to act in their discretion.
This non-compliance with the court order and the president's inaction "ineluctably leads to one conclusion that there is a deliberate and conscious design to hold in abeyance the clear command and provisions of the Constitution by unconstitutional means for rallying political agenda in a partial and unconstitutional manner".
"Such inaction and non-compliance of the orders of this Hon’ble Court, purely on the basis of irrelevant considerations and political designs, has all the trappings of invocation of Article 6 of the Constitution," which pertains to high treason, the petition stated.
"It is a case where holders of esteemed constitutional offices are bent upon keeping the one organ of the province (the government) dysfunctional by resorting to unconstitutional means."
The petition highlighted that the president, being the titular head of the state, had to perform his functions without any political pressure and not act in a partisan manner. "Through the impugned action it clearly reveals that he is acting on the dictates of PTI, a political party to which he belongs."
"The conduct and inaction of the governor of Punjab and that of the president of Pakistan are contemptuous and tantamount to implications of Article 6 of the Constitution," the petition stated, adding that Hamza, however, did not seek to press these provision for the time being.
Hamza further argued in the petition that inaction on part of the president and governor would lead to "further economic and political turmoil" and that it had defeated the essence of the president's office, which was to protect the Constitution.
He added that when it was evident that neither president nor the governor was willing to abide by the court order on his oath-taking, "it is imperative that [a] person be nominated by this Hon’ble Court in order to protect the Constitution and to enforce its provisions with full force".
On these grounds, Hamza prayed the court to direct the Senate chairperson to administer oath to him.
LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti will take up the petition tomorrow (Tuesday).