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PTI files intra-court appeal against Hamza’s oath

LHC recommends formation of five-member bench for hearing case

A Lahore High Court (LHC) division bench on Saturday recommended the formation of a five-member larger bench to hear the intra-court appeal filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) against the single bench verdict for the administration of oath to Hamza Shehbaz.

The division bench comprising Justice Sajid Mahmood Sethi and Justice Tariq Saleem took up the appeal and suspended remarks given about the president and Punjab governor in the judgments on the subject matter.

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“A five-member or a larger bench should be formed,” the court announced in its verdict while suspending paragraph 9 of the decision announced by the single bench.

The bench also sought the personal appearance of the attorney general of Pakistan as well as advocate general of Punjab for the assistance of the court in the interpretation of the constitutional points involving the case.

The bench sent the file to the chief justice and recommended that a five-member larger bench should be constituted to hear the matter.

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The intra-court appeal had been filed by Sibtain Khan and 17 other PTI leaders in the Lahore High Court against the verdict of its single bench directing NA speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to administer the oath to Punjab CM-elect, who is now the chief minister.

The PTI deemed the decision beyond the facts and called it contradictory to the constitution.

They also submitted that the judicial proceedings of the single bench also contained “rude remarks against constitutional officers such as the governor of Punjab and the president of Pakistan in the reserved judgment”.

They argued that the haste and the procedure showed an absence of justice, pleading with the court that a larger bench of not less than seven judges should hear this matter.

They contended that the impugned order passed by the single bench ignored the facts and it was also contradictory to various articles of the constitution and be declared null and void.

“This judgment is against Articles 48, 87, 133, 187, 190, 204, 248 and 255 of the Constitution,” said the PTI’s counsel.

He also said that under Article 248 of the Constitution, the president, provincial governors, the prime minister, federal ministers, ministers of state, chief ministers and provincial ministers had immunity and this Article clearly stated that the aforementioned shall not be answerable to any court for the exercise of powers and performance of functions of their respective offices or for any act done or purported to be done in the exercise of those powers and performance of those functions.

A day earlier, LHC’s Justice Jawad Hassan had directed the speaker to administer an oath to Hamza Shehbaz Sharif at 11:30am on Saturday to put an end to the crisis in Punjab. The province had been functioning without a cabinet since the resignation of former Punjab chief minister Usman Buzdar last month.

The verdict had come in response to an appeal seeking that the court appoint a nominee to administer oath to CM-elect Hamza Shehbaz. The appellants said that such conduct [delay in administration] was unprecedented and was a clear violation of the constitution. They argued that these proceedings had caused turmoil and created havoc, pointing out that a third petition was filed for the same cause which had already been decided in two separate petitions.

Earlier, LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti in two separate judgements advised/proposed the president to play his constitutional role to resolve the issues. In the first judgment, the CJ expected the President would play his role to resolve the issue and the second judgment proposed the Punjab governor complete the process of administration of oath either himself or through his nominee.

Hamza filed a third petition for the implementation of the previous judgments on the issue and asked the court to appoint any person for administration of oath to him.

Justice Jawad Hassan heard the case from both sides and directed NA speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to administer the oath to Hamza at 11:30am on Saturday in Lahore.

On the other hand, PTI had approached the LHC and challenged the notification of Hamza Shehbaz as Punjab chief minister.

Sibtain Khan, the PTI leader, filed the petition through Advocate Azhar Siddique Advocate and submitted that the resignation tendered by Usman Buzdar was constitutionally incorrect. He said the incumbent Punjab governor rejected his resignation and restored the previous cabinet, thus all the previous steps automatically turned void.

The petitioner said Hamza Shahbaz took oath as the Punjab CM which was unconstitutional in light of the governor’s letter. He said two chief ministers could not serve at the same time.

He asked the court to stop Hamza Shahbaz from working as the chief minister after declaring the notification invalid.

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