| Several hours after postponing Punjab Assembly session for 10 days Deputy Speaker issued new notification for today’s sitting


LAHORE   -   In what appeared to a sudden change of plan after Tuesday midnight, Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari summoned Punjab Assembly session on Wednesday (today) at 7:30pm to elect the new chief minister of the province. The notification was also issued in this regard, local TV reported late Tuesday. Earlier in the day, Deputy Speaker Punjab Assembly Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari summoned Punjab Assembly session on the 16th of this month at 1130 hrs, instead of Wednesday. The voting process for election of new Punjab Chief Minister was scheduled to be held during Wednesday’s session.

In deviation from the past precedents and exploiting the loopholes in the Constitution, Deputy Speaker Punjab Assembly Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari on Tuesday deferred the much-awaited voting on the election of new Chief Minister till April 16 without assigning any reason.

The Punjab Assembly was scheduled to elect a new chief minister on Wednesday (today) as per earlier orders of the deputy speaker.

In the official notification, the deputy speaker said that he had taken this decision by exercising his powers vested in him under rule 25 (b) of the Assembly rules of procedure. “The next sitting of the Assembly will now be held on Saturday April 16, 2022, at 11:30 am instead of Wednesday (today), the 6th of April”, said the notification.

Former Punjab Governor Ch Mohammad Sarwar had accepted the resignation of the Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar on April 1 and summoned the Punjab Assembly to meet on the very next day to elect the new chief minister. Two candidates, Ch Parvez Elahi and Hamza Shehbaz Sharif filed nomination papers on first day of the sitting and the Speaker fixed next day (April 3) for the voting. But the Deputy Speaker did not hold voting on that day citing a scuffle inside the house. He then adjourned the session till April 6 (today).

The Opposition in Punjab Assembly has been protesting over the delay in the election process. It has alleged that the PTI government was using delaying tactics since their candidate did not have the required numbers to win the election.

It is ironic that since there is no specific time span mentioned in the Constitution about election of the new chief minister after resignation of the incumbent, it can be held any time, any day, sooner or later. It can even be held on the same day the incumbent resigns. It is in fact up to the Governor when to call the Assembly session and then up to the Assembly speaker to fix a day for the election. In this way, the deputy speaker’s orders to further delay the election is well within the ambit of law and the Constitution.

Interestingly, the deputy speaker can defer the election as many times as he likes and there will be no violation of any law if does so.

But this is the first time in the country’s political history that the election of a new chief minister has been delayed for such a long time. There are some interesting precedents in the past when Malik Ghulam Mustafa Khar, Hanif Ramay and Nawab Sadiq Hussain Qureshi and Mian Manzoor Wattoo were elected chief ministers on the same day their predecessor resigned. In one precedent, however, Arif Nakai was elected the new chief minister one day after the resignation of the incumbent.

In the seventies, following the resignation of Malik Miraj Khalid on November 12, 1973, Malik Ghulam Mustafa Khar was elected new chief minister the same day (November 12, 1973).  Similarly, when Mustafa Khar resigned on March 15, 1974, Hanif Ramay was elected as the new chief minister also on the same day (March 15, 1974). Likewise, when Mustafa Khar resigned on July 15, 1975, Nawaz Sadiq Hussain Qureshi was elected the chief minister the same day (July 15, 1975).

Later in the nineties, When Ghulam Hayder Wyne left the office on April 25, 1993, Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo was elected new chief minister the same day (April 25, 1993). Watto took the oath of office the following day. In his second term, when Mian Manzoor Wattoo left the CM office on September 12, 1995, Arif Nakai was elected the new chief minister on the following day (September 13, 1995).