Lahore (Web Desk): The Lahore High Court (LHC) Friday admitted a petition for hearing filed by Leader of the Opposition in Punjab Assembly and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Hamza Shehbaz seeking the judiciary's help in holding the elections for the chief minister's (CM) office.
LHC Chief Justice Ameer Bhatti heard the petition alongside a similar plea filed by Punjab Assembly (PA) Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Mazari, who was recently stripped of his powers by Speaker Chaudhry Pervez Elahi for joining the opposition ranks.
In his appeal in court, Hamza made Punjab Assembly Speaker Parvez Elahi, Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari, and Inspector-General of Police Punjab Rao Sardar Ali Khan parties.
The LHC's registrar objected to admitting the plea citing Article 69, which restricts courts from interfering with the parliament's business. Later, the matter was forwarded to LHC Chief Justice Ameer Bhatti, who admitted the plea.
At the outset of the hearing, Hamza's counsel Azam Nazeer Tarar argued that members of provincial assembly (MPAs) were stopped from entering the assembly building on April 6. He said that the session for voting on the province's new chief was first scheduled to be held on April 6, before being moved to April 16.
The court asked whether the petition could be set for hearing on Monday. At this, the lawyer said the province does not have a government for the last eight days.
Hamza's lawyer told the court that the Punjab advocate general had assured the Supreme Court (SC) on April 5 that the session would be held the next day.
"When the deputy speaker was made aware of this, he summoned a session," the lawyer said, adding that the apex court had announced a "historic" decision on April 7.
At this, the LHC chief justice summoned the Punjab advocate general and admitted the petition.
When the hearing resumed after a short break, the court was informed that the Punjab advocate general was in Islamabad and would not be able to appear in court.
The court decided to issue notices to all respondents for Monday (April 11).
However, the PML-N lawyer requested the court to fix the hearing for tomorrow.
"The SC even heard the case on a Sunday," he said, referring to the court's suo motu notice of National Assembly proceedings.
Upon this, Justice Ameer Bhatti replied that the apex court had taken a suo-motu notice.
"The hearing will take place as per the Constitution and the law. You have filed the case today.
We will only be able to proceed once the record is available," he said, adding that the court had to work according to the rules of the Constitution.
The court issued notices to Pervaiz Elahi, Dost Muhammad Mazari, the Punjab chief secretary and the provincial police chief.
The judge also sought a record of the Punjab chief minister's election from the provincial secretary and adjourned the hearing till April 11 (Monday).
It is pertinent to mention that CM's office has been vacant for more than a week since ex-governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar, who was removed from his position last week, accepted Usman Buzdar's resignation on April 1.
The PA session was summoned on April 2, 2022, for the office of the new CM contested by PML-N's Hamza Shehbaz and PML-Q senior leader and PA Speaker Chaudhary Pervaiz Elahi. The election was supposed to take place on April 3 but the session was adjourned after a ruckus.
Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari adjourned the proceedings till April 6. But on April 5, the Punjab Assembly (PA) Secretariat issued a notification extending the sitting date of the House to April 16. But later another order was issued stating the house will meet on April 6.
Later, the Punjab Assembly building was sealed and none of the lawmakers were allowed to enter the building of the assembly. The PML-N and its allies held a symbolic session at a local hotel in Lahore where they elected Hamza Shehbaz the chief minister.
Pervaiz Elahi's move to bar assembly members was made after PTI submitted a no-confidence motion against its own deputy speaker Dost Mohammad Mazari maintain the stance that he summoned the session without consulting the party.
Moreover, the joint Opposition also filed a no-trust motion against Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi on Thursday.