12 January 2023
By Rehan Piracha
The Lahore High Court on Thursday set aside the chief secretary’s notification of denotifying Punjab Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi, accepting the provincial chief executive’s petition challenging the governor’s order to denotify him.
A five-member full bench, headed by Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh, resumed its day-to-day hearing on Elahi’s petition when Mansoor Awan, counsel for Punjab Governor Baligh-ur-Rehman informed the court that the province head has withdrawn the order issued on December 22 to de-notify the chief minister after receiving the report from the Punjab Assembly speaker that Pervaiz Elahi has secured the vote of confidence from assembly members in a late-night session.
At the outset of the hearing, Barrister Ali Zafar, counsel for Pervaiz Elahi, told the bench that Elahi has secured 186 votes in the trust vote proceedings in the midnight session. Mansoor sought time from the court to consult the governor on the matter. When the hearing resumed after an hour-long break, the governor’s counsel told the court that the governor has withdrawn the order of de-notification upon confirmation from the Punjab speaker that Elahi has secured the vote of confidence from the Punjab Assembly.
Justice Abid Aziz Shaikh remarked that the whole matter has concluded after the notification was withdrawn. Justice Abid Aziz Shaikh reiterated that courts should interfere to the least in such matters. All the matter has been resolved according to the Constitution and on the floor of the assembly, the judge remarked.
“The Governor has received the report from the Speaker dated 12.01.2023 confirming that Chief Minister has obtained the vote of confidence in terms of Clause (7) of the Article 130 of the Constitution while complying with the order dated 19.12.2022 of the Governor. As a consequence of compliance, the Governor has withdrawn the order dated 22.12.2022,” the short order quoted Mansoor Awan’s statement to the court.
“In view of the statement made by the learned counsel for respondent No.1 (Punjab Governor), it is evident that the impugned order dated 19.12.2022 stood complied with by the petitioner, and the Governor Punjab affirmed his pleasure, who is not proceeding against the petitioner under Article 130(7) of the Constitution and whereas the other impugned order dated 22.12.2022, being the consequence of allegedly not taking a vote of confidence in terms of order dated 19.12.2022, is also withdrawn in view of the above statement when petitioner had taken a vote of confidence on 12.01.2023 successfully, passing the floor test, which is required under Article 130(7) of the Constitution,” reads the court order.
The bench said it did not need to adjudicate upon the justiciability of the reasons/grounds stated in the December 19 order of the Punjab Governor for reaching satisfaction in terms of Article 130(7) of the Constitution and merits of the order of the Speaker of the Assembly in the context of the ratio settled in the case of “Pir Sabir Shah Versus Federation of Pakistan and others” (PLD1994 SC 738), which questions were left open for determination in any other case.
“Furthermore, in the light of the statement of the Governor Punjab, this petition has borne fruit, consequently the notification dated 22.12.2022 issued by the Chief Secretary Punjab is set- aside,” the bench wrote in its order, disposing of the petition.
However, the political crisis in the province is yet to be over with the conclusion of the court hearing. All eyes are on Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi whether he complies with the instructions from Pakistan Tehrik Insaf chairman Imran Khan to dissolve the provincial assembly along with that of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to force the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s coalition in the federation to call early elections in the country.