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Governor Punjab to send reference against LHC judge

LAHORE: Punjab Governor Omar Sarfraz Cheema has announced to send a reference against Lahore High Court’s (LHC) Justice Jawad Hassan to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) for what he called an “illegal decision” of directing the National Assembly speaker to administer the oath to Chief Minister-elect Hamza Shehbaz.

Addressing a press conference in Lahore, Cheema said he had decided to take legal action against the judge after consultations with professionals over the last two days.

Last month, Justice Hassan had issued a nine-page verdict after Hamza approached the high court for the third time, ending a days-long deadlock over the chief minister’s office in Punjab. Hamza was elected as Punjab’s chief minister on April 16.

After the court decision, Hamza was administered the oath by NA Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on April 30.

In his press conference today, Cheema termed the LHC judge’s verdict “illegal”, saying that according to the honeycomb principle, no institution could “interfere” in the working of another institution.

There was no provision in the Constitution that stated that anyone besides the president or the governor could issue a notification regarding the new chief minister, he added.

The governor also shared that he had requested meetings with the president and the army chief to discuss the situation in the province.

He also advised Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to make his son, Hamza, aware of how to contest the election for the chief minister in a constitutional way, stressing that he would administer the oath himself if Hamza did that.

The SJC is a specialized forum created under Article 209 of the Constitution specifically for determining complaints of misconduct received against judges.

Earlier in the day, Cheema claimed that if Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa provided him with one subedar and four jawans, he would arrest recently sworn-in Chief Minister Hamza, who he termed “illegal, unconstitutional and counterfeit”, and throw him in jail.

In a series of early morning tweets, he said that the province, which was facing a constitutional and legal crisis, had been “taken hostage by force” and termed the political parties’ silence “very concerning”.

If everyone had accepted the Hamza Shehbaz “formula” for becoming the chief minister in Punjab, the other provinces should start worrying for themselves, he added.

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