Lahore High Court’s division bench, headed by Justice Shujaat Ali Khan, upheld the LHC chief justice’s order that allowed the Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari to chair the session for the election of chief minster scheduled to be held on April 16.
This is second time that PA Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi and the secretariat lost the legal battle against the deputy speaker.
Earlier LHC’s CJ Muhammad Ameer Bhatti had ordered Mazari to proceed to elect the CM in terms of sub-article (3) of Article 130 of the Constitution. This order was issued on Mazari’s petition against Speaker Elahi who according to him had withdrawn his powers as acting speaker.
As LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti set aside the order through which the powers of the deputy speaker were withdrawn, Speaker Elahi and the PA secretariat challenged the verdict.
This time LHC’s division bench headed by Justice Shujaat Ali Khan and comprising Justice Jawad Hassan heard the matter in detail.
On Friday, as the proceedings commenced the division bench’s head Justice Shujaat directed the Inspector General Police (IGP) Punjab, who was present in the court room, to revise the SOP and ensure complete security on the election day and no members of the assembly be restrained from entering the assembly’s premises.
Meanwhile, Justice Shujaat also directed the Punjab chief secretary to coordinate with the IGP and ensure smooth process on the election day.
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The arguments of the counsels of Elahi and the PA’s secretariat revolved around “biasedness”.
At the onset of the arguments, Mazari informed the bench that his powers of deputy speaker were withdrawn and the assembly was made “no-go area”. He told the court that he had never witnessed such a practice even during dictatorship.
He said he had issued notification of April 6 instead of April 16 following the Advocate General Punjab (AGP)’s statement in the Supreme Court.
At this point, the bench asked AGP Ahmad Awais, who denied any statement given before the SC. He implored the court that he had just described the factual position in the SC and had not given any undertaking that the election will be conducted on April 6.
The bench’s second member Justice Jawad Hassan reading the Clause (3) of Article 53 of the Constitution said the case revolves around a line “unable to perform his functions due to any cause”. Justice Jawad asked the PML-Q’s counsels what “cause” they are attributing with the speaker.
They argued the cause is that Speaker Elahi is contesting CM’s poll. While responding to Justice Jawad’s another query about what “cause” you are attributing with deputy speaker Mazari, they said he has become controversial.
They added that rules are very clear for that person who losses his confidence amongst majority of its members. They said ultimately the House will be presided over by the top person amongst the Panel of Chairmen which is announced by the speaker on first sitting of the session.
Barrister Ali Zafar presented four points which according to him make the deputy speaker Mazari controversial. First, a no-trust motion has been submitted against him, secondly Mazari had become party in litigation as he levelled allegations at a candidate — Speaker Elahi. Thirdly, PML-N’s lawyers are arguing in support of Mazari here and fourthly, Mazari had expressed his views on TV programmes.
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On Justice Jawad’s query as to how could a court judge a person’s biasness and what is a criteria for it, PA’s counsel maintained that biasness does not mean that that person is biased, adding that biasness entails when others start feeling the tilt of someone to a specific side. He also expressed fear that deputy speaker Mazari could give benefit to others in the CM’s contest.
Deputy Speaker Mazari’s counsels asked that does it make any sense that opposite side counsels are claiming Mazari has become party in legal battle although he just knocked the doors of court for getting justice. He argued that clause (3) of Article 53 of Constitution is very clear neither his client is absent nor he is unable to perform his function nor any cause the opposite side had developed following which a conclusion could be drawn that deputy speaker could not chair the assembly session.