April 8, 2022
By Rehan Piracha
The Lahore High Court issued notices to Punjab Assembly Speaker Pervaiz Elahi, the provincial chief secretary and the police chief over petitions seeking the early election of the new chief minister. The hearing was adjourned till April 11.
Chief Justice Amir Bhatti also sought a record of proceedings relating to the election of the new chief minister from the provincial assembly secretary while hearing petitions by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Hamza Shehbaz and Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Mazari.
Elahi had adjourned the session of the provincial assembly for election of the new chief minister till April 16, citing vandalism by opposition lawmakers in the earlier session on April 3. The deputy speaker had called a session on April 6 but the speaker stripped him of powers after the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf members of the provincial assembly submitted a no-trust motion against their own deputy speaker over siding with the opposition parties.
In his petition, Hamza Shahbaz sought the help of the court in holding elections for the new chief minister in a fair and transparent manner. The Lahore High Court Registrar Office had declared the petitions inadmissible under Article 69 of the Constitution, saying stating the speaker’s orders could not be challenged in the court. However, the chief justice dismissed the objections and admitted the petitions.
The chief justice summoned the Punjab advocate general but he was informed that the advocate general was in Islamabad and would not be able to appear in court. The court decided to issue notices to all respondents for Monday (April 11).
Azam Nazir Tarar, the counsel of Hamza Shehbaz, requested the court to hold the hearing of the case on Saturday, April 9, stating that the matter related to the province being without a chief executive. However, the chief justice said the court would be able to proceed once the record was available, adding that the court had to work according to the rules of the Constitution.
Speaking to reporters outside the court, PML-N leader Ata Tarar said the provincial chief secretary was an employee of the State and not anyone’s servant. He said the provincial government was being run without a chief minister for over a week. He said generally losers try to flee from elections while the winners want election to be held as quickly as possible.
“The Punjab Assembly Speaker, himself a candidate of chief ministership, is trying to influence the election of the new chief minister, fearing that the ruling coalition lacked the requisite numerical strength to elect their candidate,” Ata Tarar told Voicepk.net. He said the PML-N candidate Hamza Shahbaz had shown support of over 205 MPAs on several occasions.
Ata Tarar refuted claims that the PML-N legislators had vandalised the assembly building. He said no members could be suspended and barred from voting in the election of the new leader of the house.