SC resolves Punjab
political saga, orders
CM re-election should
be held on July 22

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ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: The Supreme Court (SC) announced on Friday that the re-polling for the Punjab chief minister’s post will be held on July 22 and not today (Friday) as per the orders of the Lahore High Court.

The PTI had filed a plea in the top court seeking the annulment of the Lahore High Court’s (LHC) decision that had ordered the governor to hold the re-election for the Punjab CM’s slot today at 4pm.

During Friday’s hearing, after much back and forth, Punjab Assembly Speaker Pervez Elahi — a contender for the CM’s slot — had initially agreed that Hamza Shahbaz could remain the chief minister till July 17, but the PTI disagreed.

Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, while Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail.

In a bid to break the deadlock, the top court directed Elahi to speak to PTI Chairman Imran Khan and come up with a solution — as it adjourned the hearing for the third time.

After the hearing resumed, all the parties agreed that Hamza would remain the chief minister till July 17.

In a 4-1 split decision a day earlier, the LHC wrapped up PTI’s case against Hamza’s election to the CM’s slot, while ordering to recount of the votes cast during the Punjab chief executive’s election but with the exclusion of 25 PTI dissidents’ votes, in line with the apex court’s interpretation of Article 63(A).

But in its bid to remove Hamza from the post of Punjab chief minister, PTI had earlier in the day approached the SC to challenge the orders of the LHC to hold a vote recount on the CM poll — which was held on April 16.

The SC accepted the plea for an immediate hearing earlier in the day and formed a three-member bench. The hearing was headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, while Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail.

Imran Khan accepts Hamza Sharif

Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan Friday accepted Hamza Shehbaz as Punjab chief minister until re-election.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan had summoned Hamza Shehbaz and Speaker of Punjab Assembly Pervaiz Elahi in a plea filed by PTI challenging the Lahore High Court (LHC) verdict for the recount of votes for the election of Chief Minister Punjab.

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court of Pakistan comprising Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Jamal Mandokhel heard the petition. At one point, PTI’s counsel Babar Awan said that PTI had reservations against the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Justice Bandial, however, said that orders would be issued regarding the implementation of the election code of conduct. He stated that the court would issue a general order and that the parties should not waste time on small matters. “It would be better if you don’t make the case a family dispute,” he told Elahi and Hamza.

Chief Minister Hamza Sharif

The CJP said that both sides had been at odds for three months and the matter had finally been resolved in the apex court in three hours. He then asked: “CM sahab, do you have any intentions of rigging (the polls)?” To this, Hamza replied that he would compete in the assembly and whoever is the suitable candidate would win.

“I am a political worker. I have spent years in jail. We will ensure free and fair elections are held,” he said. Subsequently, Justice Bandial said that the court would use words acceptable to both parties in its written order. He then announced that the elections for the chief minister would be held on July 22. ‘Likely that Punjab CM election won’t happen today’

Justice Ahsan remarks

Earlier, Justice Ahsan remarked that it was clear the election could not be held today. However, he did not agree with the PTI’s request for a seven-day extension on account of its MPAs being out of the country. He went on to say that if there was no objection to Hamza continuing as CM, the only point of contention was the timeframe.

PTI’s lawyer Faisal Chaudhry speaks to the media outside the Supreme Court on Friday.

One of the lawyers present during today’s hearing contended that it would be more appropriate to hold the CM election after the by-elections on 20 Punjab Assembly seats, scheduled for July 17. To this, Justice Ahsan said the argument had weightage.

Justice Ahsan noted that as per the dissenting note in the LHC verdict, one more day could be given for holding the assembly session. “There should be an appropriate time for a revote,” he said.

One of PTI’s lawyers, Imtiaz Siddiqui, pointed out that the ECP had not yet notified PTI lawmakers on the reserved seats in the PA. At this, Justice Ahsan remarked that “the world would not come to an end” if the notification was not issued.

Subsequently, the chief justice summoned Hamza and Elahi, adjourning the hearing till 4pm.

Pervaiz Elahi satisfied with SC verdict

Speaker Punjab Assembly Pervaiz Elahi

Pakistan Muslim League – Quaid (PMLQ) leader and Punjab Assembly speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi on Friday while expressing satisfaction over Supreme Court’s verdict on the Punjab Chief Minister election said that what we wanted has been accepted by the court.

Talking to the media, Elahi said that a fair decision has come today decision, what we wanted has been accepted by the apex court and the session of the Punjab Assembly will be held as per the rules. He further said that Hamza Shehbaz has assured that political interference and police will not be used during any session, adding that the house will be completed by July 22, and then elections will be held.

“The election will be held on July 22 only in the Punjab assembly building, not at any other place,” he added.