April 12th, 2022
By Rehan Piracha
The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday reserved its judgment on the petition filed by Hamza Shehbaz over the fair and transparent election of the new chief minister in Punjab.
Chief Justice Ameer Bhatti of LHC heard arguments from the counsels of contesting chief ministerial candidates Pervaiz Elahi and Hamza Shehbaz.
Azam Nazeer Tarar, counsel for Hamza Shehbaz, offered that the presiding officer for the assembly session which would elect the new chief minister should be chosen from among four independent members of the Punjab Assembly who have no affiliation with any party.
However, counsels for the PML-Q and Pervaiz Elahi objected to the proposal, pointing out that these independent members were affiliated with the PML-N.
They said Jugnu Mohsin, an independent media person named among the four members, had recently joined PML-N and also addressed a press conference along with Hamza Shehbaz.
Barrister Ali Zafar, counsel for Pervaiz Elahi and PML-Q, told the court that the deputy speaker could not be named presiding officer of the assembly session for the election of a new CM as he has become controversial by becoming a party to the case.
Chief Justice Ameer Bhatti questioned how the election for the chief minister could be made transparent and fair, adding that there was a need for a person whom both contesting parties could trust.
The chief justice clarified that he had no sympathy for any of the parties concerned. He said his hands were tied by law otherwise a court-appointed person could have conducted the election.
According to assembly rules, only a member could preside over a session.
The hearing also witnessed a heated exchange of words between Azam Nazeer Tarar and Amir Saeed Rana, counsels for Hamza Shehbaz and PML-Q respectively.
The counsel for PML-Q objected to appointing Deputy Speaker Dost Mazari as presiding officer, claiming that he had already begun interfering in the work of the assembly secretary.
The chief justice asked what needed to be done if both parties wanted to appoint separate presiding officers. The court asked both parties to reach a consensus on a pushing backdate of the assembly session as well as the presiding officer for the election of the new chief minister, scheduled for April 16.
However, the counsels told the court that their clients could not agree on both issues.
Earlier, the court directed the assembly staff to reopen the chamber of the deputy speaker and let him assume the duties of his office.