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LHC asks president to appoint representative for oath of Punjab CM-elect

Punjab Governor Omar Sarfaraz Cheema excused himself from administering oath to CM-elect

The Lahore High Court on Friday asked President Arif Alvi to appoint a representative to administer oath to newly elected Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz.

Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti was hearing the petition moved by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Hamza Shehbaz seeking directives for the Punjab governor to administer oath to him or appoint any other representative for the said purpose.

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“It is expected from president of Pakistan that he will resolve/decide the matter of nomination of any person in terms of Article 104 of the Constitution keeping in view the fact that people of the province of Punjab are already suffering on account of non-functional provincial government for the last 21 days, which, as held in Mustafa Impex’s case by the honorable Supreme Court (PLD 2016 Supreme Court 808), consists of chief minister and the cabinet,” Justice Bhatti said in a four-page judgment in the case.

At this, the CJ expressed dismay and observed why he did not appear before the court with proper preparations. The CJ first gave him an opportunity to produce any evidence if the Punjab governor had written any letter to the president on the subject matter. But the AG appeared again and could not present anything in writing. The court again gave a chance to submit the letter until 2pm.

After 2pm, the AG informed the court that the letter written by the governor would be dispatched to the president within the next 24 hours. He said that the governor had expressed his inability to administer oath. The AG said the governor had powers under Article 104 of the Constitution to refuse administration of oath. Advocate Ashtar Ausaf, who was representing PML-N leader Hamza Shahbaz, opposed his arguments, saying that the governor did not have such powers.

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Advocate Ashtar Ausaf, who was representing PML-N leader Hamza Shehbaz, opposed his arguments, saying that the governor did not have such powers.

Ashtar Ausaf who had served earlier as advocate general of Punjab argued that the governor could do only one thing and that he should administer oath immediately.

Meanwhile, the CJ expressed serious concerns over the current situation, observing that “there is no government unfortunately for the last 21 days and all affairs of the government had come to a halt”.

The CJ also remarked that the Punjab governor was respectable for all but he also should care about the respect of others.

The CJ asked the president to appoint a representative to administer oath to newly elected Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz.

On other hand, Advocate General Punjab Ahmed Awais decided to challenge the verdict of the single bench headed by Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti.

On Thursday, the LHC had issued notice to advocate general Punjab (AGP) to seek instructions from the Punjab governor.

Hamza Shehbaz approached the Lahore High Court with the plea that the Punjab governor should be asked to administer oath or any other person be appointed for this purpose. He said he was elected as Punjab’s new chief minister while the incumbent Punjab government was not fulfilling its constitutional duties. He claimed that the office of the Punjab CM had been lying vacant since April 1, 2022 and owing to refusal of the incumbent governor, the official duties of the provincial government had come to a halt.

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