The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) challenged the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) decision in the Supreme Court on Friday regarding the election of Pakistan Musltim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Hamza Shahbaz as Punjab’s chief minister.
Deputy speaker of the Punjab Assembly Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari, Hamza Shehbaz, and others have been made parties in the petition filed in the apex court.
A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, and comprising Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail will be hearing the petition at 1:30pm.
In its appeal, the PTI has stated that while the LHC had accepted the party’s position, the order to convene a meeting of the provincial assembly on short notice would prove detrimental.
The petition dubbed the LHC’s decision “unconstitutional”, stating a suitable timeframe must be provided to convene a meeting of the assembly so that all members may attend as votes are to be recounted on July 1 (today).
The PTI further called for Hamza Shahbaz to be suspended from his post and removed from office so that “fair and transparent elections” can be held.
In light of their stance, the PTI called for the order of election to be suspended immediately, seeking their appeal be heard by the apex court on an emergency basis.
Addressing the media after filing the petition, PTI counsel Faisal Chaudhry said that the appeal highlighted the “many ambiguities” present in the Lahore High Court’s decision.
Chaudhry added that the “rights of the speaker of the Punjab assembly Chaudhry Pervez Elahi had been disregarded”.
The barrister furthered that if a chief minister is to be elected, an appropriate time should be provided as some PTI lawmakers have left to preform Umrah.
“The decision of the Lahore High Court to hold elections so soon is beyond comprehension,” he added.
He further hoped that the Supreme Court would hear the “important issue” today, adding that the deputy speaker was a “controversial figure”.
“If the first election was wrong then how can there be a second round?” he questioned.
The LHC’s decision to re-count the votes of the recent Punjab chief minister election will in all probability provide an easy win for provincial chief Hamza Shehbaz who would most likely secure an easy win in the second round of polls for the slot.
The PML-N sits in a comfortable position in the Punjab Assembly, with a majority of around nine votes. The PTI and their ally PML-Q, who do not have any real fighting chance in the upcoming Punjab CM election, have decided to approach the Supreme Court against the decision and reportedly announced boycotting the polls.
Hamza, on the other hand, will continue to hold his office as the LHC has instructed the presiding officer to recount Punjab CM votes subtracting 25 votes of PTI defectors, and proceed to the second round of elections.
The LHC’s decision of vote re-count was wrongly interpreted in the first place as some people thought that the Punjab CM election had been declared null and void and Hamza disqualified. They further believed that Usman Buzdar had become Punjab’s caretaker CM again.
The court’s decision was hailed as the PTI’s success by its leaders. Mian Mehmoodur Rashid said the verdict called for celebration as Hamza was no more the CM.
However, after careful reading of the order, the PTI leaders and many others came to know that the provincial government was still intact, and so were the chief minister and his cabinet. The court in its decision had only ordered the re-counting of votes sans 25 disqualified PTI parliamentarians.
Even with the facts available before the court, it was evident that Hamza did not have a simple majority. However, the court abstained from assuming the role of presiding officer and ordered a recount of the votes today.