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Restoration of powers: LHC summons PA deputy speaker

Chief secretary, IG told to appear before court on appeals challenging single-bench verdict

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday summoned Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari on April 15 (today) and directed the Punjab chief secretary and the inspector general of police to appear before the court on three different appeals challenging the verdict of a single bench, restoring powers of the deputy speaker.

A LHC division bench comprising Justice Shujaat Ali Khan and Justice Jawad Hassan was hearing the appeals moved by Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) leader Parvez Elahi, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s Sibtain Khan against the verdict of a single bench in which the powers of the deputy speaker were restored.

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Barrister Ali Zafar and advocate Imtiaz Rasheed Siddiqui appeared as counsels for the appellants.

During the proceedings, the bench asked the appellant’s counsel how they were aggrieved by the decision of the single bench as the request of Hamza Shehbaz to pre-pone the election for the Punjab chief minister was turned down.

“The deputy speaker himself filed a writ petition in the court and sought permission for the restoration of his powers and opening of his office,” the appellants’ counsels said and added that the petition was not maintainable and similarly the petition filed by PML-N leader Hamza Shehbaz was also not maintainable.

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The counsels contended that a no-confidence motion was filed against the deputy speaker. They said after filing of the no-confidence motion, the deputy speaker was not allowed to conduct the proceedings of the house for election of the Punjab chief minister.

“He [Mazari] is being biased and not fit for the purpose under Article 53(3) of the constitution of Pakistan,” Barrister Ali Zafar argued, pointing out that under the rules of business, the panel chairman would perform his duties.

The counsels also submitted that the appellants would be satisfied if it was observed that the procedure for the election of the chief minister is conducted as per the constitution, and Rules of Procedure of the provincial assembly of the Punjab, 1997, especially second schedule thereof.

The counsels argued that a scuffle erupted on the premises of the provincial assembly on April 6 and the proceedings of the house were adjourned for April 16 but the schedule for the assembly session was issued again and April 6 was fixed for the house proceeding.

“Dost Muhammad Mazari is no more impartial,” said Barrister Ali Zafar.

He argued that the court could not interfere in the internal proceedings of the legislative assembly. However, the bench observed that they wanted to hear Mazari as to why he had filed the appeal.

“We will decide the matter under the law,” observed Justice Jawad Hassan. “We want to hear from the deputy speaker as to why he approached the court for the restoration of his powers,” he added.

The bench summoned the deputy speaker along with his counsel to explain his position and directed the LHC registrar as well as the Punjab advocate general to ensure the presence of the deputy speaker, IGP and the chief secretary.

On Wednesday, LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti restored the powers of Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari and allowed him to conduct the proceedings of the house regarding the election of the next chief minister of Punjab.

“Impugned order dated 06.04.2022 in Writ petition No. 21711/2022, whereby he powers of the deputy speaker in terms of Rule 25 of the Rules of Procedure were withdrawn, being contrary to Article 53 (3) of the Constitution by virtue of which Deputy Speaker in absence of the Speaker attained the status of Speaker for this Session, completely overriding the powers provided in Rules, is hereby set-aside,” ruled CJ Bhatti in the three-page short order.

The CJ had also directed all parties to fulfill their duties by ensuring impartiality and complete the voting process under the law.

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