Hamza’s election as CM: Clear that recount cannot take place today, says SC

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday said that it is clear that a vote recount cannot be conducted today as it heard PTI’s plea against the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) verdict ordering a recount of the votes cast for the election of the Punjab chief minister.

The observation was made by Justice Ijazul Ahsan, one of the three judges hearing the case. The other two are Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, who is heading the bench, and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail.

During the hearing, Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervez Elahi and Chief Minister Punjab Hamza Shahbaz were summoned for their input.

Yesterday, in its verdict on the petitions filed by the PTI against the PMLN leader’s election as the CM, the LHC ordered a recount minus PTI dissidents and issued directives to hold a Punjab Assembly session today.

The PTI, in its petition filed today, prayed to the apex court for an urgent hearing of their plea and suspension of the LHC order till the matter is decided.

Sibtain Khan, Leader of Opposition in Punjab Assembly, Zainab Umair, Mian Muhammad Aslam Iqbal, Syed Abbas Ali Shah and Ahsan Saleem Bharyar have filed the petition.

CM Hamza Shahbaz, Punjab government, Deputy Speaker Punjab Assembly Dost Mohammad Mazari, Governor Punjab’s secretary and PA secretary were named as respondents in the case.

PTI has prayed to the court asking it to amend/modify the LHC order to the extent of provision of adequate and sufficient time to hold a session of the house enabling the members to participate in the proceeding by issuance and proper service of the notice upon the members of the assembly, so that they can exercise their right to vote for the election of the Chief Minister Punjab fairly and transparently.

“It is further prayed that the Chief Minister Punjab may kindly be removed pending this election process due to absence of a valid notification of his appointment and that the Court may graciously grant such time and issue such direction where free and fair election to the post of Chief Minister Punjab takes place with the participation of duly constituted Assembly in accordance with the norms of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973,” states the petition.

“It is also humbly prayed that since the 25 votes of defectors are admittedly not to be counted, there is no need to repeat that exercise of recounting and hence the notification issued for the chief minister is liable to be quashed as duly noted in the minority judgment.”

LHC order

No change took place in the official position of Hamza Shahbaz in light of the LHC order on petitions filed by PTI and PML-Q.

A five-member larger bench of the LHC, headed by Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan, and comprising Justice Shahid Jamil, Justice Shehram Sarwar, Justice Sajid Mehmood Sethi and Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh announced the verdict on Thursday.

In a split decision, four judges — Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan, Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh, Justice Shahid Jamil and Justice Shehram Sarwar — ordered the vote recount, while Justice Sajid Mehmood Sethi wrote his dissenting note, and restored Usman Buzdar as the Punjab chief minister.

As per the four judges’ verdict, votes cast in the election would be recounted after the exclusion of 25 PTI defectors and the candidate securing a majority of votes would be declared the chief minister.

Article 130(4) of the Constitution of Pakistan governs the election of chief ministers, under which there is an obligation of a majority of 186 votes.

Hamza will no longer be the chief minister if he doesn’t retain the required majority after the exclusion of 25 votes.

However, functions and powers exercised by Hamza Shehbaz as the chief minister, and his cabinet would be protected under de facto doctrine, it added.

The second round of polls (re-election) will be held as per Article 130(4) in case no one gets the majority after a vote recount.

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