LHC directs NA speaker to administer oath to Punjab CM-elect Hamza Shehbaz tomorrow

Punjab Chief Minister-elect Hamza Shehbaz and NA Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf. Photo: Twitter

LAHORE:  After Punjab Governor Omar Sarfraz Cheema’s refusal to fulfil his constitutional duty, the Lahore High Court (LHC) directed the National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to administer the oath to Punjab Chief Minister-elect Hamza Shehbaz at 11:30am tomorrow.

“Speaker National Assembly should administer the oath to Hamza Shehbaz at 11:30 am tomorrow,” said the LHC while announcing its verdict on the issue.

The court had reserved the verdict on Hamza’s plea seeking the administration of oath to him — as he moved the court for the third time today.

Justice Jawad Hassan had said that he would announce the judgment by 7pm. However, the verdict was issued close to 9pm.

The petition against the Federation of Pakistan and Province of Punjab was filed under Article 199 and all other enabling provisions of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and law.

In his petition, Hamza had said: “The high court had issued orders regarding the administration of the oath; however, the court’s order has not been implemented.”

He mentioned that Punjab Governor Omar Sarfraz Cheema, once again, refused to comply with the court order, urging the court to appoint a representative who can administer the oath to him.

In his petition, Hamza had requested the court to fix a date and time for the oath-taking ceremony along with a representative.

“Actions of those causing delay in administering oath should be declared unconstitutional,” the petition maintained, recalling that the Lahore High Court had directed governor Punjab to administer oath himself or appoint a representative to perform the constitutional duty by April 28.

It, however, mentioned that governor Punjab once again refuted the verdict of the court. Moreover, President Arif Alvi also did not respect the observation of the apex court.

Terming the attitude of the president and governor as “treacherous and insulting”, the petitioner said that the high court should intervene for the fundamental rights of the citizens of the province.

To run the province constitutionally, it is, therefore, important for the court to issue directives.

What happened during today’s hearing?

During the hearing, Justice Jawad asked Hamza’s lawyer why his client was not filing a case of contempt of court. At this, the lawyer said, for the time being, Hamza wanted to present the matter of the oath-taking before the court.

However, he did not rule out the option of filing a contempt of court case.

The judge said LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti’s orders — where he directed the governor and president separately to administer the oath to Hamza — were not being obeyed.

“This is a matter of the court’s respect. No one should have the guts to challenge the high court’s decisions,” Justice Hassan said.

Hamza’s lawyer, while presenting his arguments before the judge, said the government was violating the Constitution by not administering the oath to the chief minister-elect.

“A prime minister was punished for two minutes for violating the constitution. The then-prime minister had to leave his office after that,” the lawyer said.

Following this, the court adjourned the hearing till 2pm.

After the hearing resumed, the court questioned who was being affected due to the absence of a chief minister in the province.

The CM’s office has been vacant for more than a week since ex-governor Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar — who was removed from his position in the first week of April — accepted Usman Buzdar’s resignation on April 1.

The Government of Punjab’s lawyer argued that a larger bench should be formed to hear the case, but Judge Hassan dismissed the plea and reserved the verdict on Hamza’s plea.

‘Governor Punjab has no discretion’

Speaking on the occasion, PML-N senior leader Atta Tarar said that the province of Punjab is being operated without a functional government or system, for the last 28-days.

“Former prime minister is taking revenge from the people of Punjab,” he said, mentioning that governor Punjab wrote a letter to President Alvi yesterday questioning the verdict of the Lahore High Court.

“According to the Constitution the oath should be administrated immediately, the governor has no discretion in this regard,” Tarar asserted.

The senior PML-N leader maintained that they [PTI] themselves violate the Constitution and defame the courts which is “shameful”.

He also mentioned that if any incidence occurs then the responsibility will be on the governor of Punjab.

Regarding the third petition filed by Hamza, he said that they [PML-N] is only demanding for the administration of the oath, adding that they are not emphasising the contempt of the court and treason charges.

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