n PML-Q president Shujat to appear in court to explain his position on letter.

ISLAMABAD   -   The Supreme Court of Pakistan will today resume hearing in a petition moved by Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, a candidate for the CM’s office, against the ruling of Deputy Speaker Punjab Assembly Dost Muhammad Mazari over the fate of PML-Q votes.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar will conduct hearing of the petition challenging Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari’s ruling wherein he had rejected 10 votes of PML-Q members relying upon the Supreme Court ruling that votes of those lawmakers, who defy party leadership’s instructions, would not be counted.

Pakistan Muslim League – Quaid Chaudhry Shujat Hussain will likely to appear before the Supreme Court today in connection with the petition filed by Chaudhry Parvez Ellahi against the ruling of Punjab Assembly’s deputy speaker.

On the last hearing on Saturday, the apex court had provisionally allowed Hamza Shehbaz to continue as a “trustee” chief minister of Punjab with limited powers, as it observed that the ruling of the Punjab Assembly’s deputy speaker regarding rejection of votes of all Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) lawmakers in the run-off election for the CM was prima facie in violation of the court’s judgment and Article 63-A of the Constitution.

Justice Bandial observed that the views expressed by Dost Mazari, while giving the ruling, did not pinpoint to the exact observation made by the SC in its judgment. He further observed that the issue more likely seemed to be a controversy regarding the proper understanding or comprehension of the statement of law in the judgment rather than an interpretation of a constitutional provision.

The bench also issued notices to the chief minister, Punjab advocate general and an additional attorney general, as it was told that Attorney General for Pakistan Ashtar Asuaf Ali was out of the country. Advocate Irfan Qadir had appeared on behalf of the deputy speaker and argued that Mazari might have understood that the leader of a political party was considered its parliamentary leader as well.

However, the bench observed that the deputy speaker was apparently mistaken in his understanding. Justice Ijaz noted that according to democratic traditions, a parliamentary leader of a party decided as to who should be supported in an election in the assembly. He added that the party’s head could only initiate a disqualification process against its members for deviating from the instructions of the parliamentary leader of the party.

In its written order, the bench observed, “To our mind, the constitutional provisions and our interpretation thereof in paragraph-3 of the short judgement, are clear in treating the direction of the parliamentary party to be binding on members of the parliamentary party in the case where vote is to be cast, inter alia, for election to the office of chief minister.”

However, it said that the deputy speaker treated the direction by the party head to be binding on the legislators in the case of an election of the CM in terms of Article 63A.

Punjab Advocate General (AG) Shahzad Shaukat argued that the matter should be clubbed with the already pending appeals of the MPAs de-seated for defecting in the previous election for the chief minister held on April 16.

The bench said that the AG and the deputy speaker’s counsel were not able to defend the impugned ruling, while the counsel for the chief minister did not come forward to answer the queries either.

The bench observed that the respondents’ counsel were unable to justify the impugned ruling of the deputy speaker, therefore, the status of the chief minister was under a cloud. It added that in such a situation, Hamza Shahbaz could not be deemed a duly elected chief minister under the Constitution.

However, the bench allowed Hamza to perform his duties as a “trustee” holding the office of the CM till a decision in the matter, and his cabinet would exercise the powers and functions strictly in fiduciary capacity as envisaged in the Constitution.

The bench granted time to the lawyers of the respondents to file written replies to the petition by July 25 along with a record of the election process. It also summoned the letter of PML-Q president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain on the basis of which the deputy speaker passed the impugned ruling.