LAHORE: A Lahore High Court larger bench on Tuesday overruled registrar office objections to intra court appeals (ICAs) of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) against the decisions of two different single benches regarding oath taking of Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz.

Earlier, the five-member bench reprimanded PTI’s counsel Imtiaz Rasheed Siddiqui for using inappropriate language during the course of his arguments.

Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan, who heads the bench, cautioned the counsel to remain in his limits.

“I know my limits very well. I was already a lawyer when you joined the legal profession,” the counsel told the judge.

Justice Shehram Sarwar Chaudhry, another member of the bench, intervened and scolded the counsel. “Hold your horses Mr Siddiqui. Enough is enough,” the judge warned the counsel.

The counsel, however, took back his words saying he had a high blood pressure complaint.

Justice Shahid Jamil Khan, Justice Sajid Mahmood Sethi and Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh are the other members of the bench.

The bench adjourned further hearing till May 19 and directed an additional attorney general to apprise it whether Attorney General of Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf Ali could assist the bench in the matter as he had represented Hamza before the single benches.

The bench also directed Advocate General of Punjab (AGP) Ahmad Awais to settle his dispute with the government on his own.

Additional Advocate General (AAG) Jawwad Yaqoob told the bench that he had been granted charge by the government to look after the affairs of the advocate general office and the responsibility of marking cases to the law officers.

Mr Awais said he had drafted a reply to be filed before the bench in the appeals, however, it was discarded by the AAG.

The bench advised both law officers to not bring the dispute of the advocate general office before the court.

Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan observed that the bench had nothing to do with the controversy of the government with the advocate general.

The bench also hinted at summoning the communication held between former governor Omar Sarfraz Cheema and President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi on the matter.

The single bench in its April 22 order had ruled that the governor could not refuse oath to a newly-elected chief minister of a province and expected that the president of Pakistan would nominate any person to administer oath to CM-elect Hamza without any delay.

The same bench, in its April 27 order on another petition of Mr Hamza, had advised the Punjab governor to ensure completion of the process of the administration of oath to the CM-elect, either himself or through his nominee within a day. The ICAs filed by over a dozen PTI MPAs, including Sibtain Khan, assailed both decisions of the single bench.

The third order was passed by another single bench on a third petition of Hamza wherein the speaker of the National Assembly was asked to administer oath to the CM-elect.

The appeals argued that the court had no jurisdiction to issue directions to the president of Pakistan and the governor. The appeals also argued that the appellants had not been given an opportunity of hearing by the court, while issuing the impugned orders.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2022

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