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LHC seeks replies from Hamza in petition against Punjab CM election

PTI lawmakers argue in petition that police stopped them from exercising right to vote

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday gave notices to Hamza Shehbaz and other respondents, pursuing their reply over petitions by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid that challenge Hamza’s election as the Punjab chief minister.

A bench, led by LHC Chief Justice Ameer Bhatti, conducted the hearing on separate petitions against Hamza Shehbaz.

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During the hearing, PTI lawyer Barrister Ali Zafar argued that the election for the Punjab CM was held on April 16 according to the court’s directives after which Hamza took the oath of office.

However, the Supreme Court ruled on the Article 63(A) presidential reference that votes cast by dissidents cannot be counted, he added.

Justice Bhatti then questioned from what point would the apex court’s ruling be applicable. “It has to be seen if the actions that have been taken before the SC’s ruling can be nullified or not,” the judge remarked.

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The court accepted the pleas for hearing and issued notices to the parties – seeking their reply – for May 25.

Parvez Elahi in his petition argued that the election of Hamza was illegal and unlawful. He said Hamza also lost majority in the Punjab Assembly even after assuming the charge now.

Elahi also argued that the April 16 election results and the certificate issued by the Punjab Assembly deputy speaker were of no legal effect. He asked the court to declare “all consequential actions taken by [Hamza] in his purported capacity as the chief minister and all and any other communications made, orders passed and notifications issued etc consequential upon the declaration of the aforementioned result and issuing the set certificate to be null and void”.

The other petition was moved by MPAs Mohammad Sibtain Khan, Zainab Umair, Mian Mohammad Aslam Iqbal, Syed Abbas Ali Shah and Ahsan Saleem Baryar. Advocate Mushtaq Mohal, a local lawyer, also filed the petition against Hamza’s election.

The PTI leaders made Hamza Shehbaz, the Punjab chief secretary, Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Mazari, the Punjab governor’s principal secretary and the Punjab Assembly’s secretary as respondents in their petition.

They said Deputy Speaker Mazari misused his powers and took “unlawful” support from the police and the provincial officials for conducting what they said ‘fraudulent’ election. They said that it was Mazari who, following that illegal election, made an announcement that Hamza had won.

They contended that it was judicial overreach which led Hamza to administration of oath while votes of 25 PTI dissident MPAs were also counted in the final tally for Hamza. Governor Sarfraz Cheema had also refused to accept the election result, they said.

They also submitted that as per investigation conducted by the Punjab governor at that time, the respondent secretary of the provincial assembly had tendered a report containing the various dimensions of the elections held on April 16, 2022 and had categorically informed the governor that the said election was unlawful.

They submitted that Hamza’s election was a violation of the constitution as well as Rules of Business of the Punjab Assembly. They said that Hamza had approached the LHC for holding the election and considered it an urgent matter because he was enjoying support of 25 dissident MPAs of the PTI. They said the act of the dissidents was a violation of Article 63 of the Constitution.

Meanwhile, PTI MPAs Muhammad Rizwan and Shahid Nawaz sent a letter to Punjab Chief Secretary and asked him to withdraw the notification issued for appointment of Hamza Shehbaz as Punjab chief minister. They sent it through Advocate Azhar Siddique.

They wrote a letter that Hamza lost the majority after the opinion of the Supreme Court as he was no more Punjab chief minister after PTI dissidents’ votes were declared ‘disregarded’. They said they would approach the Lahore High Court if the notification issued for Hamza was not withdrawn. They asked the chief secretary for implementation of the Supreme Court’s opinion.

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