A move that could lead to a legal battle, Punjab Governor Baligh-ur-Rehman denotified Chief Minister Parvez Elahi in the wee hours of Friday, as the political crisis keeps worsening in the country.
But Parvez on early Friday morning filed a petition with the Lahore High Court (LHC), challenging the de-notification and requested to declare the governor’s move illegal.
Baligh-ur-Rehman cited the failure to take vote of confidence from the Punjab Assembly to justify his action and said Parvez Elahi ceased to hold the office, as the political turmoil in Pakistan’s largest province persists.
“I am satisfied that he does not command the confidence of the majority of the members of the Punjab Assembly, and therefore ceases to hold his office with immediate effect,” Baligh-ur-Rehman noted in his order.
He said Parvez refrained from obtaining the vote of confidence at 1600 hours Wednesday and “he still has not done so even after the lapse of another 24 hours”
The governor, however, asked Parvez to continue working as chief minister until his successor takes charge.
In his petition, Parvez said Punjab Assembly Speaker Sibtain Khan was asked to summon a session for vote of confidence. It added that the speaker did not summon the session as one was already underway.
“No action can be taken against any chief minister over speaker’s actions,” maintains the petition.
The Punjab governor has been made respondent in the case via his principal secretary and chief secretary of the province.
On the other hand, the PTI and the PML-Q rejected the move and announced that they would approach the courts against the governor’s action.
Soon after the governor and the chief secretary’s notifications, Parvez called an emergency meeting at his residence in which Sibtain, Moonis Elahi, Law Minister Basharat Raja, Punjab advocate general and some other senior leaders were present to finalise their strategy.
Later, Sibtain told journalists that the chief minister would move the court first thing in the morning and that the governor resorted to an “illegal” move.
Similarly, PTI Senior-Vice President Fawad Chaudhry said the notification held “no legal status” and a reference against the governor would be sent to the president for his ouster.
Fawad Chaudhry said the governor had no authority to remove the chief minister. “The Constitution of Pakistan does not acknowledge the governor’s notification,” the PTI leader claimed.
He added that the provincial assembly elects a chief minister and only it could remove him. “The PML-N has revived the 58-2B,” Fawad remarked.
The PTI leader noted the chief minister never said he wouldn’t take a vote of confidence — the one ordered by the governor. Parvez would take the vote of confidence only when the speaker convenes an assembly session, he explained.
A session of the provincial assembly will be held as usual on Friday and the chief minister was going to take the vote of confidence, the PTI leader said.
The governor has been found guilty of misconduct because he violated the Constitution, according to Fawad, who added that President Arif Alvi would be approached to remove the governor from office.
The PTI leader said the speaker would send a reference to the president to remove the governor from his office.
Fawad pointed out that the Punjab advocate general said that the governor’s notification was unconstitutional. Baligh-ur-Rehman will have to face the music in this regard as proceedings of misconduct will be carried out against him, he said.
In his reaction, Moonis said the PML-N and the PDM had committed a foolish act and questioned whether they would again get the “chicken” [Hamza Shehbaz as the chief minister].