- 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.
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.
CEC says election schedule to be issued in a ‘few days’
- CEC Raja issues message to mark National Voters Day.
- Fully prepared, committed to conduct transparent elections, he says.
- Urges people to use their right to vote for the “bright future”.
ISLAMABAD: Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikander Sultan Raja has said that preparations for the general elections are underway in full swing and the schedule for 2023 polls will be issued in a few days.
In a message to mark National Voters Day, the CEC said the Election Commission is fully aware of its constitutional and legal responsibilities, reported Geo News.
“Fully prepared and committed to conduct transparent and peaceful elections,” he added.
He said the polls organising body is currently busing in election preparations and the printing and distribution of electoral rolls have been completed.
CEC Raja said a notification for the appointments of election staff including returning officers (Ros) and district returning officers (DROs) will be issued in a few days.
His statement came amid heightened political temperature in the country with political parties busy in electioneering and political wheeling and dealing to strengthen their position in the elections slated to take place on February 8, 2023.
The Finance Division on Tuesday released Rs17.4 billion to the ECP for polls arrangements, putting to rest election delay rumours.
Last week, the ECP also notified the final list of delimitation of constituencies of the national and four provincial assemblies, paving the way for the announcement of the election schedule.
In the message today, the CEC also reiterated that elections will take place at its scheduled time and maintained that the commission will ensure complete security during the polls.
He also urged the people to use their right to vote for the “bright future of the country and nation” and cooperate with the ECP to ensure peaceful elections.
Raja also reminded the people that they have “power of vote,” asking them to cast their ballot while keeping in view the future of their children.
He also called upon voters to fully participate in the election process.
Manzoor Pashteen handed over to police on seven-day physical remand
- PTM leader arrested in Chaman for clashing with police.
- Holding rallies is Manzoor Pashteen’s right, lawyer tells court.
- PTM claims Pashteen’s car was fired upon in Balochistan.
ISLAMABAD: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Islamabad on Thursday handed over Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) chief Manzoor Pashteen to police on a seven-day physical remand.
Pashteen was arrested in Balochistan’s Chaman area on Monday after his security guards allegedly clashed with the police and opened fire.
The PTM leader was presented in the ATC court where Judge Abual Hasnat Zulqarnain approved Pashteen’s seven-day physical remand.
The PTM leader’s lawyer told the court that holding rallies was his client’s right and added that Pashteen’s car was fired upon in Balochistan.
Security personnel from the police, Levies and the Frontier Corps (FC) were carrying out routine checking when armed men accompanying Pashteen refused to stop the vehicle and opened fire at the security forces, the deputy commissioner had said following Pashteen’s arrest.
The official had revealed that the forces retaliated and fired at the tyres of the PTM chief’s vehicle — who along with the armed men managed to flee the scene,according to a Geo News report.
The PTM, in a statement, had confirmed the incident saying that the party chief’s vehicle came under fire near Chaman Press Club while he was en route to Quetta after addressing a sit-in organised by the All Parties Tajir Mehnat Kash.
According to a party spokesperson, eight bullets were fired at Pashteen’s vehicle with the incident injuring one woman — who is being treated in a hospital.
The party chief, along with his entourage, returned to Chaman and surrendered before the authorities, the party spokesperson added.
Toshakhana case: IHC turns down Imran Khan’s withdrawal plea
- Khan moved IHC against verdict on Oct 2023.
- IHC’s decision was reserved on Sep 13.
- ECP disqualified Khan in Toshakhana case.
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday turned down former Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan’s plea to withdraw his appeal challenging the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) verdict on his disqualification in the Toshakhana case.
The former prime minister had filed an appeal against the electoral body’s verdict on October 28, 2022, and later sought withdrawal on January 18, 2023.
Khan sought withdrawal of the appeal at the IHC as the matter was pending in the Lahore High Court (LHC).
IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq announced the court’s decision which was reserved on September 13 after hearing arguments of all the parties.
On October 21, 2022, the electoral watchdog, in a consensus verdict, had disqualified the former prime minister under Article 63(1)(p) and ruled that the PTI founder was no more a member of the National Assembly. He was disqualified for making “false statements and incorrect declaration”.
The ECP had stated that Khan submitted a false affidavit and was found involved in corrupt practices under Article 63(1)(p). The decision was taken unanimously by the electoral authority’s five-member bench.
The deposed prime minister challenged his disqualification in the IHC, praying to the court to set aside the judgment as he said the ECP had no jurisdiction over the matter.
In the meantime, a separate petition was filed in the LHC against Khan’s disqualification. The petition challenged the ECP’s relevant section under which the ex-PTI chief was disqualified.
Initially, the petitioner did not apprise the IHC about his second plea in the LHC over the same matter. Later, the PTI founder requested the IHC to allow him to withdraw his plea as he reportedly wanted the LHC to proceed with the case.
During proceedings, IHC Chief Justice Aamir Farooq expressed his annoyance over concealing the matter about the second petition in the LHC and remarked: “In principle, the case should proceed in the court where the appeal was filed first.”
Khan’s counsel argued that a larger bench of the LHC was hearing the case.
After hearing the arguments from all sides, the IHC reserved its verdict on September 13, 2023.
In August 2022, National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf sent a reference to the ECP under Articles 62A, 63A, and 223, seeking former prime minister Khan’s disqualification in the light of the Toshakhana scam.
The disqualification reference was filed by Ali Gohar Khan, PML-N’s Mohsin Nawaz Ranjha, and five others.
The 28-page reference identified 52 gift items of Toshakhana received by the former premier Khan, violating the law and rules, taken away at nominal prices and most of the gifts were sold in the market, including some precious watches.
The assessed value of the gifts has been put at Rs142,042,100. The gifts were received between August 2018 and December 2021.
According to Ranjha, Khan concealed information about the gift of watches by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman in his statement of assets submitted in 2018-2019.
This withholding of information is tantamount to lying which, according to Ranjha, is a crime under Section 137.
He said that Khan was no more Sadiq and Ameen and should be slapped with disqualification for life from contesting the election under Article 62(1)(f), Article 2, Article 3 of the Constitution.
Article 62(1)(f) is the same legal instrument that disqualified former PM Nawaz Sharif from contesting elections and led to his removal from power, Ranjha said.
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