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LHC reserves verdict on petition for Punjab CM election

The Lahore High Court on Tuesday reserved the verdict on petitions seeking directives for the authorities concerned to hold elections for the post of Punjab Chief Minister (CM).

Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti was hearing the petitions moved by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Hamza Shehbaz and Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari. Timing is not clear yet as to when the court will announce the reserved verdict, and lawyers of all the parties left the court for their offices.

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During the proceedings, Barrister Ali Zafar appeared as the counsel for Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, Advocate Azam Nazir Tarar was representing PML-N leader Hamza Shehbaz while Advocate Amir Saeed Rawn was the counsel of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid leader Kamil Ali Agha. Punjab Advocate General Ahmed Awais and officials of the Punjab assembly were also present there.

Barrister Ali Zafar argued that the election of the Punjab Assembly was an internal matter of the legislative assembly, similarly, the ruling or any order of the speaker or decision to adjourn the proceeding for a certain date was the prerogative of the speaker.

He argued that the interference of the courts into the internal proceedings of the legislative assembly is similar to the assemblies asking the courts about the pending cases.

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“When a session is to be adjourned and when it has to start, the courts do not have such powers to interfere. It is like a provincial assembly asking the courts about pending cases,” argued Barrister Zafar.

He also contended that the speaker had the powers to fix any date for the election of the Punjab chief minister. He also gave examples from the western democracy that the courts in the west did not interfere in the internal matters of their legislative assemblies.

At this, the CJ asked him how the speaker, while being a candidate for the office of Punjab chief minister could hold the election. The chief justice asked all the parties to sit together and solve the matter amicably. But as the hearing commenced at 2:00pm, the CJ remarked, “You people did not reach any point [conclusion]. Now the law will take its course.”

Advocate Azam Nazir Tarar opposed the arguments of Barrister Ali Zafar and said that the Supreme Court of Pakistan decided the matter of the National Assembly. He said the top court set aside the ruling of the deputy speaker and declared the decision of dissolving the national assembly null and void. He said it showed that the courts could interfere in the matter of the legislative assemblies.

Advocate Amir Saeed Rawn also argued that a no-trust motion was moved against the deputy speaker and therefore, he was not able to conduct the proceedings of the house.

After hearing arguments of both sides, Chief Justice Bhatti reserved the judgment.

On Monday, the CJ had ordered the opening of the office of the deputy registrar and directed Dost Muhammad Mazari to go with the LHC registrar and Punjab Assembly secretary.

The CJ had adjourned the hearing for Tuesday (today) to decide the matter regarding the powers of the Punjab Assembly deputy speaker which speaker Chaudhry Pervez Elahi had withdrawn earlier.

Hamza Shehbaz and Dost Muhammad Mazari had moved the petition seeking the intervention of the court for the election of Punjab chief minister, opening of the office of the deputy speaker and restoration of his powers. Kamil Ali Agha also filed the petition and asked the court to allow it to be part of the case.



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