Vote of confidence: LHC asks whether Punjab crisis is over

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday disposed of the petition filed Parvez Elahi after Punjab Governor Baligh-ur-Rehman retracted the orders to denotifying the chief minister after he secured the confidence of 186 members in the Punjab Assembly.

During the hearing, the governor’s counsel informed the bench that his counsel had revoked the Dec 22 notification. “He has received the report of the vote of confidence and has no objections to it,” he said.

Subsequently, the court remarked that the crisis in Punjab was resolved with the governor’s decision. “You solved the matter in assembly […] courts should not be involved in political matters unnecessarily,” it added.

Earlier, the court had asked if the crisis in Punjab was over given that Parvez had “completed the floor test” in the provincial assembly on orders of Governor Baligh-ur-Rehman.

The remarks came as a larger bench — which was hearing a petition challenging the order to denotify him as the province’s chief executive — inquired after Parvez managed to secure the confidence of 186 members.

Last month, the Punjab governor denotified him as the chief minister in a bid to forestall ousted premier Imran Khan’s plan to dissolve the Punjab Assembly.

On Wednesday, the court had remarked that a chief minister should have perpetual support from the majority of lawmakers in the house and had allowed Elahi to remain CM for one more day.

As the hearing began Thursday, the attorney general requested the court to include the record of votes in the arguments. “The governor will not have any objections to it,” he said.

Justice Abid Aziz Shaikh asked: “What do you have to say about [Parvez] Elahi taking the vote of confidence?”

Justice Asim Hafeez also inquired what the situation would be if the governor issued another notification.

“There would be no need for that after the assembly floor [proved it was in Elahi’s favour],” the AG replied.

“The floor test has been completed […] does this means that the matter has been resolved now,” Justice Shaikh inquired.

For his part, the chief minister’s lawyer Barrister Ali Zafar said that his counsel had met the governor’s first order: to take a trust vote. “His second notification regarding the de-notification should now be annulled.”

To that, Justice Hafeez maintained that Elahi had taken a vote of confidence under Article 137 of the Constitution.

The law states: “In any matter with respect to which both Parliament and the Provincial Assembly have the power to make laws, the executive authority of the Province shall be subject to, and limited by, the executive authority expressly conferred by the Constitution or by law made by 2 [Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)] upon the Federal Government or authorities thereof.”

Had Parvez taken the vote of confidence voluntarily, the situation would have been different, the judge stated, adding that prima facie, he had taken the vote of confidence on orders of the governor.

It’s a developing story. Details to follow

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