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Elahi’s petition against Mazari’s ruling: SC proceedings via video link underway

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  • Pervez Elahi challenges Deputy Speaker Dost Mazari’s ruling.
  • Deputy speaker rejected 10 PML-Q votes, dealing a major blow to Pervez Elahi.
  • Case being heard at Supreme Court (Lahore Registry).

LAHORE: The Supreme Court is hearing PML-Q leader Pervez Elahi’s petition against Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Mazari’s ruling in the Punjab chief minister’s election and has decided to conduct proceedings via video link.

The decision was made after the courtroom door was damaged following a rush of people trying to get through.

The video link room has been opened and only the respondents’ lawyers will now be allowed to be present in person.

The media is not allowed to enter the courtroom.

A three-member bench — headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, and comprising Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar — is holding the hearing at the Supreme Court’s Lahore registry.

The court had summoned Mazari, and sent notices to Chief Minister Punjab Hamza Shahbaz, the Punjab chief secretary and the advocate general for Punjab.

Barristers Ali Zafar, Imtiaz Siddiqui, and Safdar Shaheen Advocate have appeared on behalf of Elahi, while Advocate Mansoor Usman Awan is representing Hamza Shahbaz.

Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari is being represented by Advocate Irfan Qadir.

Additional Attorney General Aamir Rehman and Advocate General Punjab Shahzad Shaukat have appeared for judicial assistance.

Among PTI leaders in the courtroom are Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Asad Umar, Fawad Chaudhary, Umar Ayub, Zulfi Bukhari, Sibtain Khan, Umar Sarfraz Cheema, Usman Buzdar and Andalib Abbas.

The top court also sent notices to Chief Minister Punjab Hamza Shahbaz, the Punjab chief secretary and the advocate general for Punjab.

As the hearing began, the chief justice asked Mazari’s lawyer if he has the waqalat naama (power of attorney) for Mazari, to which Advocate Qadir replied in the affirmative.

The first half of the hearing

Prior to the court being adjourned in the morning, PTI’s counsel Barrister Ali Zafar informed the court that during yesterday’s Punjab Assembly session, re-election of the province’s chief minister took place.

Justice Ahsan asked the lawyer how many lawmakers were present during the session, to which he responded that 370 members of the assembly were in attendance.

Zafar argued that Elahi secured 186 votes and Hamza bagged 179 votes, therefore, in line with the Constitution of Pakistan, the PML-Q leader is the chief minister.

The SC’s opinion in the May order, Zafar said, states that the parliamentary party can give directions to lawmakers on whom to vote for, and the PML-Q’s parliamentary party decided to back Elahi, but despite that, Mazari dismissed 10 PML-Q votes.

“They ignored the parliamentary party’s decision,” Zafar said.

At this, the chief justice said that all the relevant parties — deputy speaker, chief minister, and Punjab attorney-general — should be issued notices so they can provide their version.

“We wish to personally hear from the deputy speaker. Only the deputy speaker can tell us which paragraph he was referring to,” Justice Bandial said.

CJP Bandial said that the deputy speaker should come to the court with all the relevant documents and not be “frightened” as this is “just a legal procedure”.

The CJP then adjourned the hearing till 2:30pm.

Later a short order was issued by the court.

“The matter in issue seems more likely to be a controversy regarding the proper understanding or comprehension of the statement of law in our aforesaid judgement (paragraph 3 in Article 63A’s order) rather than of interpretation as such of a constitutional provision,” the short written order read.

PML-N demands full bench hear petition

In a press conference shortly after the hearing started, senior PML-N leader Ataullah Tarar demanded that since this is a matter related to the interpretation of the Constitution, a full bench should hear the petition.

Senior PML-N leader Ataullah Tarar speaks to journalists in Lahore, on July 23, 2022. — YouTube/PTVNewsLive
Senior PML-N leader Ataullah Tarar speaks to journalists in Lahore, on July 23, 2022. — YouTube/PTVNewsLive

The PML-N leader said that court hearings related to constitutional matters that have taken place recently — since the no-confidence motion against ex-prime minister Imran Khan — warrant a full bench.

“Therefore, with the utmost respect, I request that a full bench be constituted to hear this case as well,” the PML-N leader said.

Lashing out at the PTI, Tarar asked how the people who were responsible for the ongoing constitutional crisis could justifiably approach the Supreme Court to resolve their issues.

Later, a joint statement was issued by the coalition parties, urging the chief justice to constitute a full bench to hear the case.

What Mazari did

The deputy speaker rejected 10 votes of the PML-Q, citing the apex court’s opinion in the presidential reference for the interpretation of Article 63A, dealing a major blow to Pervez Elahi and paving the way for Hamza Shahbaz to retain the chief minister’s slot.

Opposition (PTI and PML-Q) candidate Elahi managed to receive 186 votes, but after the deputy speaker’s ruling, the PML-Q leader got only 176 votes, whereas Hamza received 179 votes.

The petition was filed late last night after the Opposition — which was confident of a victory — suffered the setback and vowed to challenge the ruling.

SC order on Article 63(A)

The Supreme Court of Pakistan, back in May, had ruled that the votes of dissident members of the Parliament (MPs), cast against their parliamentary party’s directives, cannot be counted.

The apex court, issuing its verdict on the presidential reference seeking the interpretation of Article 63(A) of the Constitution related to defecting lawmakers of the PTI, said that the law cannot be interpreted in isolation.

During yesterday’s ruling, Article 63(A) was applied after PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain wrote a letter to the deputy speaker, saying that he had directed the party to vote for Hamza Shahbaz.

The ruling has invited criticism from legal wizards as several believe that Mazari’s decision was not in line with the Supreme Court’s order.

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The PPP promises the government will support the budget vote.

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Insiders state that the PPP will support the budget despite expressing reservations about it.

As previously stated, the party leaders had not yet decided whether to support or oppose the federal budget that the administration will be announcing today.

Leading figures have reportedly reached a resolution over the dispute between two parties that are allies.

In order to have the budget approved, the People’s Party will give the PML-N its whole support. Sources stated that the PPP would back the budget’s adoption “in spite of protests and speeches in committee.”

The administration promised the PPP that some of its recommendations would be included in the budget, according to sources. Voting supporting the PML-N budget is a quid pro quo commitment made by the PPP leadership.

For assistance in passing the budget, the PML-N had asked the PPP.

The PPP has not yet decided whether to accept or oppose the budget, according to PPP leader Nayya Bukhari.

The forthcoming yearly budget for 2024–25 and the state of the nation’s economy as a whole were the topics of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and President Asif Ali Zardari’s Tuesday meeting.

The meeting was also attended by Professor Ahsan Iqbal, the Federal Minister for Planning and Special Initiatives, a press statement from the President’s House stated.

The protection of low-income and middle-class interests in the annual budget is a priority, as highlighted by President Zardari. Along with pledging his support for fiscal benchmarks to be met, he also gave the prime minister assurances on national development.

The next budget’s proposed development projects were also discussed by President Zardari and Prime Minister Shehbaz. He told the president about his recent five-day travel to China, the prime minister said.

On June 12th, or today, the federal government will unveil its budget for the fiscal year 2024–25.

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PM Shehbaz will preside over today’s federal cabinet meeting.

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We will talk about the political and economic state of the nation on Tuesday, or today.

The meeting, which will take place in the prime minister’s office, will be facilitated by the prime minister.

As per insiders, the prime minister is expected to reassure the cabinet on his recent trip to China. The meeting will also include a discussion of the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The decisions made at the sessions of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) are expected to be ratified by the cabinet as well, according to sources.

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Today, the IHC will hear the petitions of Imran Khan and Bushra Bibi in the matter of an illegal marriage.

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Imran Khan, the founder of PTI, and his wife Bushra Bibi will present their cases in an illegal marriage lawsuit before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) today, Tuesday.

At the hearing will be IHC Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb. Regarding both petitions, the registrar’s office has previously voiced objections.

Bushra Bibi has appealed in her petition that the high court to take note of a matter that is still ongoing in the sessions court about the suspension of her sentence in an illegal marriage case.

In his appeal, PTI founder argued that the District and Sessions Judge Shahrukh Arjumand should be ordered by the high court to announce the case’s reserved ruling.

Through Khalid Yousaf Chaudhry and Barrister Salman Safdar, Bushra Bibi’s attorneys, filed the petition.

The petition was moved in the interim on Imran Khan’s behalf by attorney Salman Akram Raja.

Notably, on February 3, a civil court condemned Imran Khan, the founder of the Pakistan Terrorist Organization, and Bushra Bibi to seven years in prison for their illegal marriage.

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