LAHORE: Two weeks after being elected chief minister of Punjab, Hamza Shehbaz is finally set to be sworn in today (Saturday), as the Lahore High Court on Friday directed National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to administer the oath to the CM-elect after President Arif Alvi and Punjab Governor Omar Sarfaraz Cheema failed to obey the earlier court orders.

Justice Jawad Hassan, who passed the order on a third petition of the CM-elect seeking implementation of the two previous court orders on his petitions, directed the NA speaker to administer the oath to Mr Hamza on Saturday at 11:30am.

In the LHC order, Justice Hassan observed: “Both the decisions of this court despite having binding effect have been ignored deliberately by the President of Pakistan as well as by the Governor of the Punjab. The governor through his conduct has also made himself ‘impracticable’ for the oath to be made before him.”

In the April 22 order, LHC Chief Justice Mohammad Ameer Bhatti had expected President Dr Arif Alvi to resolve the matter urgently by nominating any person in terms of Article 104 of the Constitution to administer the oath, but the president failed to comply with the order. Taking up another petition of the CM-elect, the CJ had on April 27 advised Punjab Governor Umar Sarfraz Cheema to ensure the administration of oath to the newly elected chief minister either himself or through his nominee not later than April 28, but that order also remained unimplemented.

LHC verdict issued on Hamza’s third plea; Elahi says ruling will be challenged

At the hearing of yet another plea of Mr Hamza, Additional Attorney General Mirza Nasar Ahmad argued that neither the president nor the governor had been made a party to the petition. Also, the counsel for PTI and PML-Q objected to its maintainability arguing that the parties had already challenged the court order for CM’s election after resignation of Usman Buzdar.

When the counsel for Hamza was asked about reasons for not filing a contempt of court petition against the governor, he said since the court orders had “not been implemented”, the petition was filed for the enforcement of fundamental rights under Article 199(1)(c) of the Constitution.

Justice Hassan pronounced the verdict reserved during the day after Iftar on Friday.

The LHC in its order observed that while passing the orders the court enunciated the principles of law having binding effect under Article 201, but that had been disregarded not only by President Alvi but also by Punjab Governor Cheema, causing non-fulfillment of the constitutional duty thereby violating Article 5 of the Constitution, which cast upon a duty on every citizen to be loyal to the state.

Justice Hassan also cited to a Supreme Court judgement that held “adherence to the Constitution and the law by the citizens, who are officials or otherwise, is mandatory. Non-compliance of the Constitution and the law makes a citizen liable for action, in accordance with law.”

“Both the decisions of this court despite having binding effect have been ignored deliberately by the President of Pakistan as well as by the governor of the Punjab. The governor through his conduct has also made himself impracticable for the oath to be made before him,” the judge noted.

The court order explained that the word “impracticable” used in Article 255 made it clear that the oath was to be made before a specific person and in case it was impracticable for the reason it may be made before such person as may be nominated by that person.

In the concluding remarks, the judge stated: “In light of directions/suggestions given by the court in the judgments and the law laid down by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which are binding on the courts under Article 189 of the Constitution, the petition is allowed and the federal government is directed to convey to the Speaker National Assembly to administer oath to newly elected chief minister of Punjab on April 30 (today) at 11:30am at Lahore.”

In a late-night development, the Punjab government announced that the oath-taking ceremony would be held at 10.30am at Governor House.

Meanwhile, Punjab Assembly Speaker and PML-Q leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi said they would challenge the LHC’s decision.

Speaking on Dunya News TV programme ‘Dunya Kamran Khan Kay Sath’, Mr Elahi said there was no election held in the assembly, therefore they went to the courts to seek justice. The President and the Governor of Punjab are also working under the Constitution, he added.

“If the courts open in the morning then our lawyers will go and appear before the court,” he said, adding “the decision will be challenged tomorrow.”

Mr Elahi, who as the other candidate for CM had boycotted the election, said that President, Governor Punjab will take action and it is not possible to make a unilateral decision.

Published in Dawn, April 30th, 2022

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