Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz on Monday submitted a written response to the Lahore High Court (LHC) stating that the Supreme Court’s interpretation of Article 63(A) of the constitution does not apply to his election.
In the 16-page reply, Hamza said that the Punjab CM election was held in the light of the high court’s directives. He said it was held in accordance with the law and the constitution.
“The interpretation of the Supreme Court of Article 63-A of the Constitution does not apply to the polls since the apex court’s judgment came later,” he said in his response.
Hamza submitted that the former Punjab governor’s investigation into the CM’s election was illegal and also questioned the authority of the Punjab Assembly secretary to conduct a probe into the subject matter.
The Punjab CM said that the contents of the petitions filed by the PTI leaders are baseless and therefore, cannot form the lawful basis for invoking extra-ordinary constitutional jurisdiction of a judicial review under Article 199 of the constitution.
He argued that the allegations and disputed facts raised in the petition “cannot be established under the constitutional jurisdiction of this court since neither any unimpeachable or undisputed material has been brought on record nor this court is a forum for determination of such disputed questions of facts”.
Hamza added that he had approached the court for compliance with the mandatory constitutional requirement to ensure that the constitutional mandate of existence of a democratically elected government in the province is fulfilled.
“There is no evidence on the record to attribute any malice on part of the answering respondent (Hamza) in approaching this Honourable Court,” said the CM.
He asked the court to dismiss the petitions challenging his election with “costs”.
The Punjab chief minister also submitted a fine of Rs100,000 in compliance with the court orders for not submitting his response earlier.
On May 25, the LHC had imposed a fine of Rs100,000 each on Hamza and the Punjab government for not submitting their response.
Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti was hearing the petitions.
Advocate General Punjab Ahmed Awais appeared before the court to submit a reply on behalf of the Punjab government in the case.
A counsel of the Punjab government also asked the court not to make the fine part of the record. The CJ accepted his plea.
While representing PTI leaders, Syed Ali Zafar argued that Hamza was holding the Punjab CM’s Office illegally.
“A candidate under the law needs at least 186 votes to win the chief minister’s election in Punjab. Out of the total 197 votes bagged by Hamza, 25 were of the PTI’s defiant lawmakers,” he maintained.
The PTI’s counsel raised a question that whether 25 votes would be counted or not after the SC’s interpretation of Article 63-A of the constitution.
He said the votes of dissidents would not be counted and thus Hamza had lost the simple majority needed to hold the office of the Punjab chief minister.
At this, the Chief Justice asked, “Will all the decisions announced in the past be reversed if the SC’s interpretation of Article 63(A) applies to it retrospectively?”
The CJ remarked “the ECP had de-notified PTI’s defiant lawmakers,” observing that the interpretation of the top court is not to count the votes of the dissidents.
The CJ observed that the Punjab chief minister’s election was held as per the law while the relevant law was interpreted at a later stage.
The CJ asked the PTI’s counsel, “Whether a process which has now been completed will be undone?”
The PTI’s counsel replied in affirmative, saying that there are several judgments in this regard and the court had even removed the judges.
He asked the court to bar Hamza from holding the office, submitting that the PML-N leader has support of 172 MPAs in the Punjab Assembly.
The court, however, adjourned hearing till Tuesday (today), with arguments of the PTI’s counsel in progress.
Sibtain Khan and other PTI leaders had filed the petition and made Hamza, the Punjab chief secretary, Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Mohammad Mazari, the Punjab governor’s principal secretary and the Punjab Assembly’s secretary as respondents.
PTI leader Mian Mahmood-ur-Rasheed also approached the LHC on Monday and challenged the election of Hamza Shehbaz.