July 26, 2022

By Rehan Piracha

LAHORE: The Supreme Court has set aside the ruling of Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Mazari, declaring Pervaiz Elahi to be the elected chief minister of Punjab.

The three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial ruled that the earlier ruling about excluding votes of 10 PML-Q MPAs in Punjab chief minister’s election was “illegal”. Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar comprised the other members of the bench.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari’s ruling on Punjab chief minister’s election was “illegal” as it announced the highly anticipated verdict on PML-Q leader Chaudhry Parvez Elahi’s petition.

The decision has led to Hamza Shehbaz losing his status as the “trustee” chief minister while the apex court stated that the provincial governor or the President in case of the governor’s absence should take oath from Parvez Elahi, who with PTI’s backing, had secured 186 votes in the election. will now take over the position.

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

The bench had rejected petitions for constitution of full court in the case by the coalition parties, citing that a full court could be possible in September when judges resume their working after summer vacations. The Pakistan Democratic Movement coalition had announced it would boycott the proceedings in protest.

The counsel for Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Mohammad Mazari, Irfan Qadir and PPP counsel Farooq H. Naek  did not participate in the court proceedings.

In the short order, the apex court declared all the appointments made by Hamza Shehbaz “illegal” and told the members of his cabinet to vacate their offices.

Senior lawyers have opined that the bench’s decision to reject request for constitution of full court overlooked principles of justice and fairness by not accommodating their objections.

According to Abid Saqi, former vice chairman of Pakistan Bar Council, the apex court overlooked principles of fairness and justice when the three-member bench rejected petitions by political parties and lawyers organisations for constitution of full court to hear matter of deputy speaker ruling in the election of Punjab CM.

“It was not that the parties wanted a favourable verdict but just wanted to be heard by a full court or larger bench,” Abid Saqi explained, adding it is a judicial norm that judges excuse themselves from a bench when parties expressed no confidence in them.

“The root cause of the present crisis is the May 17 judgment of the apex court that resulted in a bad law relating to exclusion of votes of defecting parliamentarian under the defection clause of the constitution,” Abid Saqi. He said it was the first time in the country’s history that several political parties had expressed no confidence in Supreme Court judges and boycotted proceedings in the case.

Yasin Azad, former president of Supreme Court Bar Association, said former heads of bar association had requested the Supreme Court bench to constitute a full court in the sensitive matter of Punjab chief minister election and review of the Supreme Court May 17 judgment on the defection clause.

“The judgment in question led to retrospective action of exclusion of votes by defecting members in the Punjab Chief Minister election,” he said. “The deputy speaker ruling in excluding votes of PML-Q members in the recent Punjab CM runoff election aroused out of the earlier exclusion of 25 PTI defecting Punjab Assembly members,” he added.

However, the bench rejected the request for the formation of full court which subsequently to led boycott by parties of the proceedings in the court, Yasin Azad said. According to him, the only such instance in judicial history was when former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto boycotted proceedings in the high court after he had expressed no confidence in a member of the bench.

Yasin Azad said people on social media have also questioned why junior judges were being elevated to the apex court while senior judges in the apex court were being excluded from benches hearing important constitutional matters.

According to Jaffer Tayar Bukhari, vice-chairman of the Punjab Bar Council, parliament has not shown the seriousness and mature behavior expected of it. “Matters pertaining to parliament have been brought before courts for adjudication,” he said. Similarly, the views of the judiciary have varied on a case-to-case basis depending upon the judges hearing them, he added. “The scenario has created an atmosphere of uncertainty in the country,” Jaffer Tayar Bukhari.

Mazari’s counsel Irfan Qadir had said he would instead file a petition for review of the court’s decision not to constitute a full bench.

In a tweet, PPP leader Farhatullah Babar called on parliamentarians and the PDM coalition about restoring the balance of power between parliament and the judiciary. He shared the text of Article 191 relating to rules of procedure for the Supreme Court.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here