LHC directs NA speaker to administer oath to Punjab CM-elect Hamza on Saturday

LHC directs NA speaker to administer oath to Punjab CM-elect Hamza on Saturday

Lahore (Web Desk): The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday directed Speaker National Assembly (NA) to administer oath to Punjab Chief Minister-elect Hamza Shehbaz on Saturday at 11:30am.

Earlier, the court reserved the verdict on a third petition filed by Hamza over Governor Omar Sarfraz Cheema’s refusal to administer the oath to him in spite of  the court directives in this regard.

At the outset of the hearing, Justice Jawad Hassan asked about the order passed by the LHC Chief Justice (CJ) Ameer Bhatti.

Hamza's counsel, Khalid Ishaq, read the order out loud and told the court that the president and the Punjab governor were blatantly violating the Constitution.

In his remarks, Justice Jawad Hassan said that no one should have the audacity to flout the court's directives. "This concerns the respect of the high court and Pakistan's judiciary," he said.

Justice Jawad also regretted the fact that two orders passed by the high court were not implemented, adding that he would make a decision based on the Constitution.

Hamza's lawyer, while presenting his arguments before the judge, said the government was violating the Constitution by not administering the oath to the chief minister-elect.

Following this, the court adjourned the hearing till 2pm.

When the hearing continued after a short break, Justice Hassan asked why the petitioner had not made the president and the Punjab governor respondents in the case. At this, Hamza's lawyer replied by saying there was no need to make them respondents in the case.

Meanwhile, Punjab Additional Advocate General Umair Niazi contended that proceedings could only move forward once the Punjab advocate general was issued a notice under Article 27-A of the Constitution.

"The Punjab governor has sent the matter to the president. How can he administer the oath when the matter is with the president?" he asked.

He told the court that the Senate chairman could also administer the oath. "But according to my information, he is currently not in the country," he said. He added that the president or the Punjab governor could administer the oath or appoint a representative to do the same.

During the hearing, the court accepted the plea of 17 Punjab lawmakers for becoming a party in the case. The court reserved the verdict after hearing the arguments.

Earlier today, Punjab Chief Minister-elect Hamza Shehbaz moved the LHC for the third time over Governor Omar Sarfraz Cheema’s refusal to administer the oath to him in spite of  the court directives in this regard.

In his petition, the PML-N leader contented that the honorable court has already ordered his oath administration but Punjab governor is not abiding by court order.

He prayed for appointment of a representative for oath taking with mentioning of date and place by the honorable court.

In his petition, Hamza also sought proceedings against all the “constitutional office-bearers” for defying the high court and violating their constitutional duties.

On April 27, the LHC directed Punjab Governor to administer oath to newly elected Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz either himself or representative for the purpose by April 28.

As per the details, LHC Chief Justice (CJ) Ameer Bhatti announced the verdict on chief minister-elect Hamza Shehbaz's petition against the delay of his oath-taking, which the court ruled as "unconstitutional".

The court regretted that country's biggest province has been functioning without a chief executive for the last twenty five days.

The verdict said that the oath of the CM-elect is being delayed on one pretext or the other, which is not only against democratic norms but also against the scheme of the constitution.

It added that all provisions of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973, suggested prompt formation of governments, both federal and provincial.

"For that matter, expeditious administration of oath either by President or by Governor or their nominee, as the case may be, is mandatory," he said, pointing out that there was no "vacuum" or "space" in the Constitution to delay the administration of oath.

“Moreover, President of Pakistan, who is also under constitutional obligation to facilitate the expeditious administration of oath of Prime Minister or Chief Minister in any province, hence is suggested to play his role mandated by the constitution/law, ensuring a functional Provincial Government in Punjab,” the ruling further read.

The LHC CJ had directed the concerned officials to immediately fax the court's order to the President and Governor Punjab.

Hamza was elected as Punjab's chief minister on April 16. However, he hasn't sworn in yet as his oath-taking was deferred twice despite the LHC's directives for not delaying the matter any further.

Punjab Governor Omar Sarfraz Cheema had refused to administer the oath terming Hazma’s election by the Punjab Assembly as unconstitutional.

In a press conference on April 17, the Punjab governor accused the CM-elect of using “state power” on the polling day against his rivals. Cheema added that Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari also acted in a "partisan way".

Punjab CM-elect Hamza Shehbaz had moved the LHC against the delay in oath taking process.

The court had directed President Dr Arif Alvi to nominate anyone in his stead to swear in the newly elected Punjab chief Hamza Shahbaz.

After that Hamza Shehbaz had moved the LHC again, seeking execution of the court’s order.

He requested the court to direct the Senate chairperson to administer the oath to wrap up the constitutional crisis.