LHC seeks replies from president, governor on Hamza's oath-taking

Published June 2, 2022
President Dr Arif Alvi (L), Punjab CM Hamza Shehbaz (C) and Governor Balighur Rehman. — Photo courtesy: DawnNewsTV/Twitter
President Dr Arif Alvi (L), Punjab CM Hamza Shehbaz (C) and Governor Balighur Rehman. — Photo courtesy: DawnNewsTV/Twitter

LAHORE: A Lahore High Court larger bench on Wednesday sought replies from the president of Pakistan and governor of Punjab through their principal secretaries in appeals of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) against the decisions of two different single benches regarding oath taking of Chief Minister Punjab Hamza Shehbaz.

As the bench resumed its hearing, Advocate Azhar Siddique, one of the counsel of the appellants, presented a letter written by former governor Omar Sarfraz Cheema to the president on the issue of the chief minister’s oath.

The counsel said the then governor had not refused to administer oath to the chief minister-elect but had been examining the issue due to rumpus in the assembly during the election.

Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan, who heads the bench, observed that the letter apparently showed that the governor had issued instructions to the president instead of seeking instructions from him.

The judge further observed that the former governor in his letter informed the president that he had taken a decision on the matter.

The counsel argued that the governor conditioned his decision with the opinion of the president.

The bench posed a query whether the constitutional immunity available to the president and the governor also protected them against violation of a constitutional provision.

The bench observed that the basic structure of the Constitution was based on separation of powers as no state institution could interfere in the jurisdiction of the other.

However, the bench observed that the court could pass an order if found a constitutional office not fulfilling its constitutional obligations with mala fide intention.

The bench would resume further hearing on Thursday with the arguments of the chief minister’s counsel.

Arguments: Barrister Syed Ali Zafar, the counsel of Punjab Assembly speaker Parvez Elahi, on Wednesday concluded his arguments in a petition against the election of Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz pending before Lahore High Court Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti.

The counsel said the Supreme Court, through its judgement in the presidential reference, decided to eradicate defection from the country’s political scene.

He said following this judgement, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) also de-seated the defectors. He said the case before the court was now for the implementation of the Supreme Court’s judgement that said under Article 63-A the votes of defectors were not to be counted.

As regards the objection of the respondents that the election of the chief minister was privileged and its validity could not be examined by the high court, Barrister Zafar argued that the Supreme Court in a judgement relating to the vote of no confidence had already pierced the firewall and decided that in case there was a constitutional provision, the court had the power to enforce that constitutional provision and the speaker’s decision could not stand in its way.

He said the apex court decided that an unconstitutional or illegal decision was not protected by the privilege of parliament.

During the hearing, Advocate Amir Saeed Rawn, a counsel for PML-Q, said the deputy speaker was hand in gloves with the then opposition.

Chief Justice Bhatti observed that rumpus in the assemblies had been witnessed worldwide but what happened with the deputy speaker of Punjab Assembly was very deplorable.

The chief justice adjourned further hearing till June 6 and directed the counsel of Hamza Shehbaz to resume his arguments.

Published in Dawn, June 2nd, 2022

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