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Elahi to become new CM Punjab as SC declares Deputy Speaker ruling unconstitutional

ISLAMABAD: A three-member bench of the Supreme Court on Tuesday declared Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari’s ruling in the Punjab Chief Minister election “illegal” and ruled that the Pervez Elahi will be the new CM of the province. The proceedings went on for three days as lawyers from all the parties presented their arguments.

A three-member bench comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial and Justices Ijazul Ahsan and Munib Akhtar announced the verdict after completion of hearing on Punjab CM case.

The verdict saw Hamza Shehbaz lose his status as the “trustee” chief minister and his rival from PML-Q, Parvez Elahi, who had PTI’s backing, will now take over the position.

The top court, in its short order, also declared all the appointments made by Hamza “illegal” and told the members of his cabinet to vacate their offices.

“Hamza Shahbaz and his cabinet should leave their posts immediately,” ruled the top court.

The apex court also ordered that Punjab Governor Balighur Rehman administer the oath to Elahi at 11:30pm. The SC declared appointments made by Hamza Shahbaz illegal.

In case the Punjab governor refuses to administer the oath of Elahi, President Dr Arif Alvi should do it then, the court ruled.

The court also directed the Punjab chief secretary to issue Elahi’s CM notification today and ordered former Punjab chief minister Hamza Shehbaz to vacate the Office.

During the election, Mazari had decided against counting the votes of 10 PML-Q lawmakers, which were cast in Elahi’s favour, citing a letter written by party President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain in which he had instructed them to vote for Hamza instead.

Earlier in the day when the proceedings resumed, CJP also remarked that the demand of full court to hear CM Punjab election case is nothing but a delaying tactic.

He asked the parties boycotting the court proceedings to show some grace.

After 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.

During the hearing on Tuesday, Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Mazari’s lawyer Irfan Qadir and PPP lawyer Farooq H Naek told the court that they will not be participating in the hearing as a boycott is being observed.

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 a full bench.

CJP Bandial said the real question was who could give directions to party lawmakers. The constitution clearly states that the parliamentary party will give directions to MPs, he said.

“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.

Meanwhile, the top court sought assistance on the matter relating to directions by the party head or a parliamentary party.

“Assist the court over the legal questions or we will set ourselves aside from the bench,” CJP Bandial told Barrister Ali Zafar, the counsel of Elahi.

After the hearing resumed, the former advocate-general of Punjab, Ahmed Owais, came to the rostrum.

“I want to inform the Supreme Court of a few things. For three months, the matter of the chief minister is under discussion. Let me tell the court that Q-league members were aware whom they had to vote for,” Owais said.

He urged the court to review the events that took place not only during the election but also before it.

Meanwhile, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry, while talking to media persons outside the apex court’s Lahore registry, said that the SC should not be burdened with “political matters”.

“The PML-N should have accepted its defeat and separated from the government after the [Punjab CM] election,” he said, adding that this matter should never even have been brought to the court.

Talking to media persons outside court, Irfan Qadir, the deputy speaker’s lawyer, said that his client had decided against participating in the case further.

“There has been an unprecedented boycott across the country against the apex court’s verdict [on the full court bench],” he told reporters. “My client has decided to exercise the constitutional right and [file a] plea for a review of yesterday’s decision.”

Qadir said that he was hopeful the review petition would be fixed before a full-court bench, or one separate from the three-member bench. “And I am sure the case will be heard on the grounds of merit.”

Referring to Justice Qazi Faez Isa’s case, he said that a nine-member bench was formed to hear the matter of one judge. “Why is a three-member bench hearing the matter which concerns the entire country?”

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