ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday rejected the government’s petition to form a full bench to hear the case of the Punjab chief minister’s election for the time being, adding that the court needs more legal clarification regarding the formation of a full bench to issue a verdict on the case.
Justice Bandial made the remarks during the hearing of a petition filed by PML-Q leader Chaudhry Parvez Elahi challenging Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Mohammad Mazari’s decision in the chief minister’s re-election last week, which led to Hamza Shehbaz’s victory.
During the re-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 PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain in which he had instructed them to vote for Hamza instead.
A three-member bench, comprising Justices Bandial, Ijazul Ahsan and Munib Akhtar are hearing the petition. During the previous hearing on Saturday, they had allowed Hamza — who was re-elected on July 22 — to remain “trustee” chief minister till Monday (today).
Earlier, during proceedings, the SC judges remarked that lawyers representing the government and allied parties should restrict their arguments to why the apex court should hold a full court hearing of the case.
They further questioned if the party chief is the one mandated under the law to direct party members to vote a certain way in the parliament.
PTI lawyers contended that there is no genuine reason for the top court to form a full court bench to hear the case.
During the proceedings, Barrister Ali Zafar – who’s representing Pervaiz Elahi – said that it is necessary to give the verdict of the verdict soon to bring this crisis to an end.
The appeals of the dissenting party members and review petitions should be heard separately, he said, as connecting these cases would only result in waste of time.
The court had given the verdict of the no-confidence motion in just four day, the counsel said.
He claimed that the government wants to retain Hamza as CM for as long as possible. Zafar said that the Lahore High Court had rejected the petition to stop the by-elections.
By-elections have already been held on the seats of dissenting MPAs, the appeal in that case can not be heard with this one, he added.
The Election Commission of Pakistan’s decision to de-seat cannot be heard with this case
Chief justice remarked that by not constituting full benches, the court was able to focus on other cases.
At the outset of today’s hearing, the former head of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Advocate Latif Afridi came to the rostrum and pleaded to the court on behalf of lawyers’ bodies, saying the system is facing dangers as there are numerous challenges.
“The review petition in the Article 63(A) case should be fixed before a full court,” Afridi said.
At this, CJP Bandial said that he did not want to issue a one-sided order and neither would he arrive at a decision under the advice of 10 former presidents.
Barrister Ali Zafar — who is representing Elahi in the case — said that he has also remained the president of the bar. “The bar presidents should not be involved in such matters.”
Deputy Speaker Mazari’s lawyer, Irfan Qadir, too, when he came to the rostrum, said that since there are several confusions over the matter, a full bench should hear the case.
Last week, the top court asked Chief Minister Punjab Hamza Shahbaz to stay “trustee” CM till Monday (July 25) and limited his powers, noting that if he appoints someone against merit, it will be considered null and void.