The Supreme Court (SC) on Saturday permitted Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz and his cabinet to hold office until the reelection of the provincial chief minister, scheduled for July 22.
The SC issued a detailed order over the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) plea challenging the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) ruling, ordering a recount of votes polled for the election of Punjab CM held on April 16,
The apex court maintained in its order, penned by Justice Ijazul Ahsan, that, “Mr. (Hamza) Sharif has undertaken before the court that he and his Cabinet shall exercise the powers and function their offices strictly in fiduciary capacity as envisaged by the Constitution and the law to support the process of bye-election in the province to be conducted in a free, fair and transparent manner by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).”
The court stated that the commitment to act as trustees of the office is contingent on fulfilling the duty of care towards citizens of Punjab, “so that they are not deprived of due representation and governance”.
“However, such entrustment shall continue only till 22.07.2022 when a second poll takes place in terms of Article 130(4) of the Constitution,” the written order maintained.
Moreover, the SC directed the LHC to issue a detailed judgement for the order pertaining to the recounting of votes for the election of Punjab chief minister within a week.
The apex court observed that the LHC’s order “shall be implemented by the ECP forthwith by issuing the notification of the names of the candidates against reserved seats in accordance with the directions issued by the Lahore High Court.”
The top court added that in the event of disagreement from any such notification, the individual would have the right to agitate such grievance before the appropriate forum in accordance with law.
The court maintained that election would be held and all legal and procedural formalities be completed within a week, as suggested by Punjab Assembly speaker Parvez Elahi, consented to by Hamza Shehbaz and Babar Awan.
The order reiterated that the by-election against the seats that fell vacant on account of defection of members of PTI shall be held in a free, fair and transparent manner. “The process shall be completed as per the schedule already announced by the ECP. The final result(s) and notification(s) shall also be issued accordingly,” read the order.
The apex court demanded the ECP and all relevant state functionaries, including members of the parliament, provincial assemblies, ministers and advisers, to ensure that all parties follow the election laws as well as the code of conduct issued by the ECP.
The SC observed that the law must be followed in its “letter and spirit” and those involved must “refrain from any interference, inducement or influence in the affairs of the executive, the local administration and the ECP or indulge in corrupt and illegal practices.”