The Supreme Court on Saturday allowed Hamza Shehbaz to stay as a “trustee” chief minister until the hearing resumes on Monday, as it heard a plea filed by PML-Q leader Pervaiz Elahi challenging Punjab Assembly (PA) Deputy Speaker Dost Mohammad Mazari calling the chief minister’s re-election in Hamza’s favour a day ago.
The decision was taken as a three-member bench comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhter, took up the petition at the SC’s Lahore registry.
Here are main developments that took place during the hearing:
SC orders Hamza to remain as “trustee” CM till Monday.
Bars Hamza from using CM powers for political gains.
CJP remarks that deputy speaker’s ruling was prima facie against Article 63-A verdict.
Court summons Punjab deputy speaker, who sends his lawyer.
Notices also issued to Hamza, attorney general, Punjab advocate general and Punjab chief secretary.
Proceedings briefly paused due to rush of people.
The hearing will resume in Islamabad on Monday.
In its order after the day-long hearing, the court said: “Hamza will continue to work as a trustee chief minister till Monday.”
It ruled that Hamza should work as per the Constitution and law during the time period. “As the chief minister, Hamza Shehbaz will not use his powers for political gains,” it stressed.
Separately, at one point during the hearing, Justice Bandial remarked that prime facie, the deputy speaker’s ruling was against the apex court’s verdict in the Article 63-A reference.
Subsequently, Mazari’s lawyer Irfan Qadir, who appeared before the court after the deputy speaker failed to show up, asked for more time and said he wanted to submit a written response. The court granted him time till the next hearing on Monday.
Meanwhile, Elahi’s lawyer, Barrister Ali Zafar, requested the court to at least prevent Hamza from forming a cabinet, on which the court said he could form one but it should be as small as possible.
The PML-Q lawyer requested the court to hear the matter tomorrow as well but the court said if the arguments were not completed, the matter would go to Monday anyway so the hearing will be in Islamabad on Monday.
ARGUMENTS BY IRFAN QADIR: During the hearing, which was held via video link, the court asked Advocate General Punjab Shahzad Shaukat on what basis was he defending the ruling of the deputy speaker — who rejected 10 votes of PML-Q citing Article 63(A).
Shahzad said that the case is being defended on the basis of the decision announced by the Election Commission of Pakistan.
Advocate Irfan said that the Supreme Court in its decision taken on PTI’s petition regarding vote of defiant members had ruled that vote of dissident members would not be counted.
However, Chief Justice Bandial said: “We would not reconsider the verdict announced on May 17 as it has not been challenged here yet.”
He said that the deputy speaker citing SC’s verdict did not reject PML-Q’s 10 votes therefore the defending advocate should only highlight the part where this has been written.
Addressing advocate Qadir he said that you are a senior lawyer and should know where the deputy speaker took reference for his ruling; the advocate, however, tried to defend the loopholes by saying that he was only appointed two hours before the hearing.
Adding to the argument, Justice Ahsan asked advocate Qadir to read the para which was cited by the deputy speaker.
“According to Article 3(1)A, votes of dissident members would not be counted, this was the court’s investigation,” he read. To this Justice Ahsan said that this was the court’s verdict and not an investigation.
Advocate Qadir said that the deputy speaker considered it correct not to count PML-Q’s votes in the light of the Supreme Court’s decision, he thought that the party head is considered the parliamentary head of the party.
Justice Ahsan asked the advocate that for instance if the deputy speaker misunderstood the SC’s earlier verdict and what would be the outcome? Advocate Qadir said that there is no dispute on the facts; however, he cannot make confession statements because of his fear of the court.
CJP Bandial said that it seems that the deputy speaker gave the ruling against the court’s decision.
“The deputy speaker is answerable on what basis did he give the ruling,” he added.
The court ordered Mazari as well as the Punjab government to submit a written and comprehensive reply.
During the hearing, CJP Bandial asked Mazari’s counsel whether he has brought the record or not.
“We want to see the letter written by the party head,” CJP Bandial said, adding that under Article 63(1)A, the parliamentary party has been given a separate identity therefore the court wants to see the letter.