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LHC returns Hamza Shehbaz’s petition seeking orders for Punjab governor to administer oath

LHC registrar office asks Hamza Shehbaz to annex relevant documents with his petition and file it again

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday returned the petition of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader and newly elected Punjab Chief Minister seeking directives for the Punjab governor to administer oath to him.

The LHC Registrar office returned the petition because it was incomplete.

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“Your petition is incomplete as the required documents have not been made part of it, ” said the registrar office, asking the petitioner to come up again with the required documents.

Hamza Shehbaz, the PML-N leader who was recently elected as Punjab chief minister, filed the petition in the Lahore High Court and made Punjab chief secretary and Punjab governor as respondents.

The petitioner said that resignation of former Punjab chief minister Usman Buzdar was accepted on April 1, 2022 and consequently the office of the chief minister had fallen vacant.

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He argued that as clearly couched in terms of Article 130 of the constitution, read with rule 17 of the Rules of Procedure of the Provincial Assembly of Punjab, 1997, the provincial assembly should have started the process of election of chief minister forthwith, but the ruling junta elected to delay the process.

He said the process for the election of the chief minister commenced on April 2, 2022, and per the constitutional command and mandate, had to be completed by the end of the following day, April 3, 2022. However, the facts which unfolded in this country, and as a natural corollary in this province, on the eventful day of April 3, 2022, was a history, which would never be cherished by anyone.

He added that on April 3, 2022, the then prime minster advised the president of Pakistan to remove Chaudhary Muhammad Sarwar from the office of governor of the Punjab and appointed present incumbent governor.

The petitioner stated that the incumbent governor was installed with a clear command to play havoc with the constitutional principles and parliamentary norms of a democratic society.

He further submitted that in Punjab, the house of Provincial Assembly of Punjab was adjourned without vote and eventually the petitioner was constrained to file a constitutional petition while the deputy speaker also filed a petition. Both these petitions were decided through an order announced in open court on April 13, 2022, he added.

He contended that it was an established constitutional practice in Punjab that the governor offered oath to the elected chief minister after receiving information under Rule 21 of the Rules of Procedure. He submitted that it was trite that violation of constitutional conventions was tantamount to violation of the constitution.

Hamza said Omar Sarfraz Cheema, the governor, was a former office bearer and old worker of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and it was unfortunate that he was bent upon creating a constitutional crisis, which, on the one end, ridiculed the spirit of the constitutional commands and parliamentary democracy, and on the other end, exposed the masses of this province to further economic and political turmoil by putting the executive machinery of the province to a grinding halt.

He further argued that the position of the president as the head of state and similarly the position of the governor as the head of the province was like that of the English constitutional monarch, and except when the constitution provided otherwise, he or she did not and could not act on his own initiative, but must act in accordance with the advice of the prime minister or in the latter case, the chief minister or his cabinet. There are, however, instances where Article 48(1) and Article 105(1) were not applicable, said Hamza.

He prayed the court to direct the Punjab governor to administer oath to him as per the prevalent constitutional dispensation without any further delay. He also asked the court to appoint any other person to administer the oath of chief minister.

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