Punjab CM election: Coalition govt demands full bench, says three people cannot decide country’s fate

Punjab CM election: Coalition govt demands full bench, says three people cannot decide country’s fate

Islamabad (Staff Report/Agencies): The coalition government on Monday reiterated its demand for the formation of a full bench of the Supreme Court to hear Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) leader Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi’s petition against the election of Punjab chief minister.

Addressing a press conference Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz, along with Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and other political leaders said that she had been advised not to hold the media talk as it would affect her appeal in the Panama Papers case that was being heard by the Islamabad High Court. “However, I said that the people’s representative has to think beyond themselves and think about the people,” she added.

Bilawal Bhutto said three people cannot decide on whether this country will run on a democratic, elected or selected system.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman endorsed Maryam’s view saying that fingers were being pointed at the judiciary. “The government wanted to strengthen the judiciary so that their decisions spoke for themselves,” he said and added, “They shouldn’t have any conflict or give the impression of being biased.”

The presser comes ahead of the apex court’s hearing on Pervez Elahi’s plea challenging Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Mazari’s ruling on chief minister election.

On Saturday, the top court restored Hamza Shahbaz status as Punjab’s “trustee” chief minister.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justices Ijazul Ahsan and Munib Akhtar heard PML-Q leader Pervez Elahi’s petition against Dost Mazari’s ruling.

Earlier the day, the SC summoned Deputy Speaker Punjab Assembly at 2 pm, directing Dost Muhammad Mazari to submit the complete record of yesterday’s re-election to the court.

As the hearing commenced, PTI's counsel Barrister Ali Zafar informed the court that during Friday's Punjab Assembly session, a re-election of the province's chief minister took place.

Justice Ahsan asked the lawyer how many members of the assembly were present during the session, to which he responded that 370 lawmakers were in attendance.

Zafar argued that Pervez Elahi secured 186 votes and Hamza Shehbaz bagged 179 votes, therefore, in line with the Constitution of Pakistan, the PML-Q leader is the chief minister.

Counsel for Pervez Elahi said that the SC's opinion in the May order, states that the parliamentary party can give directions to lawmakers on whom to vote for, and the PML-Q's parliamentary party decided to back Elahi, but despite that, Mazari dismissed 10 PML-Q votes.

“They ignored the parliamentary party's decision,” Zafar said.

At this, CJP Umar Ata Bandial said that all the relevant parties including deputy speaker, chief minister, and Punjab attorney-general should be issued notices so they can provide their version.

“We wish to personally hear from the deputy speaker. Only the deputy speaker can tell us which paragraph he was referring to,” Justice Bandial said.

The bench also summoned Attorney General for Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf, Advocate General of Punjab Shahzad Shaukat and the Punjab chief secretary.

On Friday, Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari rejected 10 votes of PML-Q MPAs cast in favour of Chaudhry Pervez Elahi and retained PML-N’s Hamza Shahbaz as chief minister of Punjab.

The deputy speaker said he rejected these votes in the light of a letter issued by PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain who directed his party's lawmakers to vote for Hamza Shahbaz.

According to Mazari, Hamza received 179 votes whereas Elahi garnered 176 votes, but only after 10 votes of Elahi’s own party were not counted, which turned the tables in Hamza’s favour.

In line with the ruling of the Supreme Court (SC) verdict on Article 63-A related to the defection clause, the deputy speaker said he had rejected the votes of PML-Q lawmakers.

It is the second time that Hamza defeated Pervez Elahi in the election for Punjab CM slot. The last time he had secured victory on April 16, his oath-taking had been delayed for days with then-governor, Omer Sarfraz Cheema, refusing to administer the oath to him.

Eventually, National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf administered the oath to him on April 30, following the Lahore High Court's (LHC) directives.