SC strikes down deputy speaker’s ruling, declares Elahi as new Punjab CM

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan declared Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari’s ruling in the Punjab Chief Minister election illegal and declared Pervaiz Elahi as the new Punjab Chief Minister.

A three-member bench comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial and Justices Ijazul Ahsan and Munib Akhtar announced the verdict after reserving it. The apex court ordered the Punjab Governor Balighur Rehman to administer the oat to Elahi at 11:30pm besides directing the Punjab chief secretary to immediately issue notification of Pervaiz Elahi as Punjab chief minister. In case the governor does not administer oath to Elahi, President Dr Arif Alvi can do so instead, the court further ordered.

The SC bench in its short order also declared all the appointments made by Hamza as illegal and ordered the members of his cabinet to vacate their offices. All of the advisers and assistants appointed by Hamza were also ordered to be relieved of their duties, the apex court said.

On July 22, Mazari rejected 10 votes of PML-Q members in Punjab Chief Minister’s re-election that led Hamza to become Punjab Chief Minister, citing a letter from PML-Q’s chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain under Article 63-A of the constitution.

The apex court short order accepted the petition of Parvaiz Elahi and pronounced him as Punjab chief minister. It said in the verdict that the formation of the Punjab cabinet and election of Hamza Shehbaz Sharif as chief minister was illegal.

The coalition government demanded for a full court bench to hear the case but the apex court hearing arguments from all sides for nearly eight hours on Monday, the SC decided not to form a full court bench, saying that the same bench would hear the case. As the SC decided not to form a full bench, the ruling coalition and the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) decided to boycott the apex court’s hearing.

Earlier today, the counsel for Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Mohammad Mazari, Irfan Qadir, informed the Supreme Court that his client had instructed him not to participate further in the case proceedings and he would instead file a petition for review of the court’s decision not to constitute a full bench.

PPP counsel Farooq H. Naek also declined to participate in the court proceedings. However, they both stayed in the courtroom and watched the proceedings. The ruling coalition had said yesterday it would boycott the proceedings in protest.

JP Bandial said that the constitution’s Article 63 (A) clearly states that the parliamentary party gives directions to the lawmakers and the formation of a full court was nothing more than “delaying the case”. “The formation of a full court and then hearing of the case could have been delayed till September as judges are on leaves.”

During the course of the proceedings, Deputy Speaker Mazari’s counsel, Irfan Qadir, told the bench that his client has directed him to not be a part of the proceedings. Qadir told the SC that he would challenge the apex court’s decision on the formation of the full court to hear the PML-Q petition.

Following Qadir, PPP lawyer Farooq H Naek came to the rostrum and informed the CJP that he would not be part of the proceedings. At this, the CJP told him that he “is not a party in the case”. The CJP said that “no legal” grounds were presented before the court; arguments were presented only regarding the party head’s directions; the court arrived at the conclusion that in the current case, there was no need for the full bench.

CJP Bandial said the real question was who can give directions to the party lawmakers. The constitution clearly states that the parliamentary party will give directions to the MPs. “There is no need for further arguments in this case. We will give priority to wrapping up this case as soon as possible,” he said.