| Chief Justice says Governor can’t refuse to administer oath to newly elected Chief Minister | There is no govt in Punjab for last 21 days and what governor is doing, asks Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti

LAHORE   -  Lahore High Court on Friday asked President Dr Arif Alvi to nominate any person for administering oath to newly elected Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz Sharif during the next twenty-four hours and also disposed-off the writ petition filed by Hamza Shehbaz Sharif in this regard. In his decision, Chief Justice Lahore High Court, Justice Ameer Bhatti stated that Punjab Governor cannot refuse to administer oath to newly elected Punjab Chief Minister. He also directed the quarters concerned to send the copy of the court’s decision to the President

The court asked its office to fax the order to the office of President for placing the same before President for appointing another person for oath taking of Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz, under Article 104 of the Constitution, after noting that the Punjab governor through Advocate General Punjab had informed about non-administering oath to newly elected Chief Minister Punjab Hamza Shehbaz for reasons to be recorded in the letter addressed to the president.

The court also hoped that the President would not wait for the letter of the governor as he did not have any authority to exercise any option expect to ask the newly elected chief minister to assume office by administering oath.

LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti passed the orders while disposing of a petition, filed by Hamza Shehbaz. During the proceedings, Advocate General Punjab (AGP) Ahmad Owais appeared before the court at the start of the proceedings.

He submitted that he met the Punjab governor as per court orders who said he wanted to put his objections before the court. He submitted that besides the Punjab governor, the Speaker could also administer oath, but Hamza Shehbaz did not plead this in the petition. However, the chief justice questioned whether the governor had given any reason for refusal to administer the oath.

The chief justice asked the AGP to contact the governor and ask him why he did not want to administer the oath, while adjourning hearing for a short time period.

Later, as the proceedings resumed, the AGP submitted that the governor considered that the election of the chief minister was not held as per law and Constitution. He argued that the governor was not a rubber stamp or post office. The governor had taken oath and he must act in accordance with the Constitution, the AGP submitted, adding that he wanted to file a detailed reply in the matter.

At this, the chief justice observed that it was an important matter and he should have appeared with complete preparation. He observed there was no government in Punjab for last 21 days and questioned that what governor was doing.

While rejecting the AGP plea for adjournment, the chief justice noted that the governor must give his reply.

The chief justice observed that the governor must inform the court, adding that if he did not want to administer the oath, then the law would decide its own course.

The AGP submitted that he had spoken to the governor and he was writing to the President about reasons for not administering the oath.

At this stage, the chief justice expressed annoyance and observed that there was no government in Punjab for the past 21 days whereas the governor was not administering oath for past five days. To whom the court should ask, the LHC CJ added.

The chief justice questioned when the governor would write to the President. Ahmad Owais stated that he could not give any time-frame. The court expressed the hope that the governor would write today (Friday).

The chief justice addressed the AGP and observed that he was giving time to governor till 2:00pm. It is okay if the governor took the decision; otherwise, the court would decide its own course.

Later, as proceedings resumed, the AGP informed that governor would write a letter to the President within 24 hours expressing his inability to administer oath.

Subsequently, the court expressed expectation that the President would appoint another person for administering oath to newly elected chief minister while asking office for forwarding orders to the office of the President.

Hamza Shehbaz had approached the court for oath taking as Punjab chief minister. He submitted that he had been elected as Punjab chief minister in an assembly session held on April 16 and he secured 197 votes.