LAHORE: A counsel for Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz argued before a Lahore High Court larger bench that the governor was not a judge under any law and was only supposed to act as a representative of the federation in the province.

“If governments in Centre and a province are of different political parties, there is likelihood that the governor would toe his party line. That’s why the law does not give any power of judgement to the governor,” Advocate Mansoor Usman Awan, the counsel for the CM, said in his arguments.

The bench headed by Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan is seized with appeals of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) against the decisions of two different single benches regarding oath taking of CM Hamza.

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

During the course of arguments, the bench asked the counsel whether the governor had the power to examine a certificate of the speaker or presiding officer if the election of the chief minister was marred with any controversy.

The counsel argued that the governor was bound to administer an oath to the chief minister as he was not a judge in any case.

The bench adjourned further hearing till June 7 and asked the counsel to come up with arguments on whether the governor could send a report to the president about the election of the chief minister.

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

A 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 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.

Published in Dawn, June 3rd, 2022

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