In a devastating blow to the nascent Shehbaz Sharif-led ruling coalition, the Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari’s ruling on the election of Punjab chief minister, paving the way for PTI’s Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi to ascend to the throne in the country’s political heartland.
In the conclusion to a hearing that has gripped the country for the past four days, a three-member bench, comprising Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar, announced an unusually harsh verdict after over a three-hour delay.
“The governance of the province of Punjab in accordance with the Constitution has been subverted whereby the fundamental rights of the people have been seriously infringed,” said the top court in its 11-page short order.
“As a result, the ruling dated 22.07.2022 issued by Respondent No1, Deputy Speaker, the Punjab Assembly is set aside and declared to be void, without lawful authority and of no legal effect,” read the order.
By virtue of the order, PML-N’s Hamza Shehbaz lost his status of the "trustee" chief minister. All the advisers and assistants appointed by Hamza were also ordered to be relieved of their duties.
The court declared the ten votes of the PML-Q lawmakers, which were rejected by the deputy speaker, citing party chief Chaudhry Shujaat’s letter in the CM election, as valid.
I appreciate our SC judges for standing firm & upholding the Constitution & law, against all manner of threats & abuse. I want to thank Barrister Ali Zafar & his team. I want to thank the people of Punjab for coming out in unprecedented numbers in bye elections against rigging.— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) July 26, 2022
The apex court in its short verdict ordered the petitioner, Pervaiz Elahi to take oath of the Punjab CM at 11:30pm tonight and ordered Hamza Shehbaz, who was hitherto ‘trustee’ chief minister, to leave the post of the province’s chief executive immediately.
In case the governor does not administer oath to Elahi, President Dr Arif Alvi can do so instead, the court ruled.
The apex court also nullified all decisions taken by ‘trustee CM’ Hamza after the controversial election in which he bagged 179 votes against Elahi’s 186.
The three-judge bench also held that the deputy speaker misinterpreted the apex court order on Article-63A related to the defection clause and “subverted the Constitution”. Soon after the verdict was announced, PTI leaders and workers burst into impromptu celebrations.
As the hearing resumed earlier today, the counsel representing Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Mazari, Irfan Qadir, and the counsel for Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Farooq H Naek, boycotted the SC proceedings.
The proceedings began with a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial presiding over the hearing. Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Mazari’s counsel, Irfan Qadir, came on the rostrum where he stated that he was told to not be a part of the proceedings.
“I will not be a part of further proceedings”, he maintained.
JUDICIAL COUP.— Maryam Nawaz Sharif (@MaryamNSharif) July 26, 2022
Qadir stated that he would file a revision against the order rejecting the petition requesting the formation of a full five-member bench, to which the chief justice replied that the court had decided that there was no need for a full court to hear the case.
“Arguments were made in the court regarding the compliance of the party leader’s instructions,” the Chief Justice of Pakistan said, adding that the lawyers for the parties were told that the Constitution did not allow for obstruction of governance.
PPP's counsel Farooq Naek also appeared on the rostrum during Tuesday's proceedings and stated that his party would also not appear in court.
The chief justice, however, told Naek that he had done well in assisting the court on Monday and permitted him to take his seat. Justice Bandial added that the PPP was not made a party in the case.
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