The Lahore High Court has announced its judgement that it reserved on Tuesday in a case involving the election of the Punjab chief minister.
The court has rejected pleas from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz to hold the election earlier. However, it has restored the power of Deputy Speaker Dost Mazari, and said that he would chair the session on April 16.
Pakistan Muslim League-N's (PML-N) Hamza Shehbaz Sharif and Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari had filed petitions against the delay in the conduct of election and the withdrawal of the deputy speaker's power by the speaker, respectively.
Earlier this month, PA Speaker Pervaiz Elahi, who is also a candidate for the chief minister slot, rescheduled the session for April 16, citing the repairs. The deputy speaker countered his move by issuing another notification and trying to hold the session on April 6 but Elahi withdrew Mazari's powers under Rule 25 of the assembly.
The judgement, which was reserved by Chief Justice Ameer Bhatti Tuesday after the counsels concluded their arguments, said that the date for the assembly session had already been given and the petition to move it forward is rejected.
The court, nevertheless, tasked the secretary Punjab Assembly to complete the repairs by April 15.
The judgment also restored the deputy speaker’s powers and said that he will chair the session. The speaker’s move to withdraw the deputy speaker’s power is contrary to Article 53(3), the court ruled.
Everyone must act in an impartial manner to uphold the supremacy of the constitution, the verdict said.
Article 53(3) reads as follows: When the office of Speaker is vacant, or the Speaker is absent or is unable to perform his functions due to any cause, the Deputy Speaker shall act as Speaker, and if, at that time, the Deputy Speaker is also absent or is unable to act as Speaker due to any cause, such member as may be determined by the rules of procedure of the Assembly shall preside at the meeting of the Assembly.
The Lahore High Court had earlier told Elahi and Hamza to mutually decide on the date by holding talks, but they failed to do so.
There was also disagreement on the person presiding the session as Elahi’s group claimed that Mazari — who faces a no-confidence motion submitted by his own party PTI — was supporting the PML-N.
Imran Khan nominated Elahi as PTI candidate for chief ministry after asking Buzdar to step down at the end of March. PML-N's Hamza is being supported by not only opposition parties but also by disgruntled PTI groups.
SAMAA TV Wednesday reported that Elahi plans to suspend membership of at least PML-N MPAs on the election day to stop from from casting their votes in favour of Hamza.
The election was originally held on April 5 but the session was prorogued after a fight broke out among women MPAs. The speaker later claimed that the session could not be held before April 16 as the assembly hall needed repairs.