Pak Supreme Court resumes hearing of Punjab CM election case

PTI | Islamabad | Updated: 25-07-2022 17:06 IST | Created: 25-07-2022 16:53 IST
Pak Supreme Court resumes hearing of Punjab CM election case
Supreme Court of Pakistan Image Credit: ANI
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Pakistan's Supreme Court on Monday resumed hearing of a key case related to the election of the chief minister of Punjab as the country's coalition government urged the apex court to constitute a full bench to hear petitions about it.

A three-member apex court bench, comprising Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, and Justice Munib Akhter, is hearing the main petition filed by Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, who was the candidate for the chief minister's slot.

He secured 186 votes against 179 votes of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidate Hamza Shehbaz but lost after Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari rejected 10 votes of his Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) lawmakers.

Mazari refused to count the vote after party chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain through a letter directed his party lawmakers to vote for Hamza, son of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and PML-N president.

The Punjab province has been in turmoil since April which took a new turn on Friday when Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf supported candidate, Elahi, was not declared a winner.

Mazari in his ruling said that PML-Q chief, Chaudhry Hussain, through a letter directed his party's 10 members including Elahi to vote for Hamza but they violated the direction and their votes could not be counted under Article 63-A as interpreted by the Supreme Court.

The ruling was challenged by Elahi and the court in its short order on Saturday asked Hamza to continue as "trustee" chief minister and announced to take up the hearing on Monday.

The apex court order irked the coalition government led by which after criticizing it demanded the constitution of a full bench and reiterated it on Monday as the court grappled with the issue.

PML-N leader and Vice President Maryam Nawaz alleged that the petitions being filed in the court were facing delays and claimed that her party was being discriminated against by the court.

She also gave the example of Hamza, saying: "Have you ever heard of a trustee chief minister?" She said that since Hamza was elected chief minister of Punjab, he was not allowed to work.

"He goes from parliament to court, and back and forth. What justice is this?" she asked.

"Our justice system is such that when a petition is filed, the people already know what bench will be constituted and the decision that will be given," she said.

Maryam said there were many respected judges appointed to the apex court and questioned why they were not involved in hearing cases.

"One or two judges, who have always been anti-PML-N and anti-government are repeatedly included in the bench," she said, adding that "bench-fixing is a crime just like match-fixing".

The appeal is being heard by a three-member bench, including Chief Justice Bandial, Justice Ahsan, and Justice Akhtar.

They were among the five judges who ruled against the ruling of the then National Assembly deputy speaker Qasim Suri's decision to dismiss the vote of no-confidence against PTI chief Imran Khan in April.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari asserted that the country's democratic parties had only one demand: the formation of a full bench.

"It cannot happen that only three people decide this country's fate. That only they decide whether this country is run through a democratic system, an elected system or a selected system." He said that everyone will accept the verdict when all the judges listen to the case.

"If only three judges give a decision, then we will not be able to control the political situation that will develop in this country," he said, adding that the Constitution could not be altered due to the pressure asserted by the PTI chief.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman endorsed Maryam's view, saying the government did not expect any justice from the current bench and reiterated the government's demand for a full bench.

He said the government supported what Maryam said earlier and this was its "united stance".

PML-Q leader Tariq Bashir Cheema also reiterated the demand for a full court bench, adding that a decision should be taken "for once and all times to come".

Earlier, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and head of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) Hussain filed applications with the Supreme Court requesting it to be made a party to the deputy speaker ruling case that is currently being heard by the court.

Hussain said he "wrote a letter to the Deputy Speaker on July 22" and argued that Mazari had "disregarded the votes based on the letter".

Meanwhile, the court banned the entry of political leaders citing "security concerns". The Express Tribune newspaper reported quoting sources that the passes that had previously been issued to political parties were also canceled and only parties to the case and their legal counsel were allowed to enter the court.

Security has been tightened around the court building where a large number of police officials have been deployed. Paramilitary Rangers, and Frontier Corps personnel were also present to help the police.

Punjab is the second largest province of the country and any party ruling the province controls the politics of the country.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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