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Saturday February 04, 2023

Punjab opposition faces legal challenges in filing no-trust motion against Pervez Elahi

PDM parties are mulling strategies to counter PTI plan of dissolving the provincial assemblies

November 28, 2022
A file photo of Punjab Assembly. — AFP/File
A file photo of Punjab Assembly. — AFP/File

LAHORE: The Punjab opposition is facing legal and constitutional issues to submit a no-confidence motion against Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervez Elahi in order to topple the PTI government.

The PDM parties are mulling strategies to counter PTI plan of dissolving the provincial assemblies as announced by former prime minister Imran Khan.

On November 26, Khan surprised many by announcing that his party had decided they would not remain a part of the corrupt political system, and quit all the assemblies.

Reacting to his announcement, Punjab CM Chaudhry Pervez Elahi said he won't "wait for a minute" to dissolve the provincial assembly if PTI Chairman Imran Khan asks him to.

The PDM parties met today to review the political situation to avoid the dissolution of the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies.

Sources privy to the matter said that as per the constitution, the no-trust motion against the Punjab CM could not be submitted during the ongoing session of the provincial assembly. The provincial assembly’s session is continued for the past four months.

In order to move a no-confidence motion against the CM, it is necessary to end the ongoing session of the house, the sources said, adding, “it is the prerogative of the speaker to end the session.”

'Coalition parties would consider all political, legal options'

In a press conference today, PML-N leader Ata Tarar said that the coalition parties would adopt all the political and legal options to prevent the assemblies from dissolution.

He made the remarks following a PML-N parliamentary advisory committee meeting held with Hamza Shahbaz in the chair.

Referring to a plea filed by Hamza in the Lahore High Court (LHC) against the election of PTI's Sibtain Khan as Punjab Assembly Speaker, he pleaded with the court to hear their case.

For her part, PML-N leader Azma Zahid Bukhari said that Khan and CM Elahi cannot impose their decisions on Punjab.

Elahi dares opposition to table no-confidence motion

In response to the opposition's threat, the Punjab CM dared the opposition to table the no-confidence motion against him.

Taking to Twitter, the chief minister said that PTI and PML-Q have the majority in the house with 191 MPAs.

“During an ongoing assembly session, no-trust motion or governor's rule cannot be imposed,” he added.

Reaffirming his support for the PTI, the chief minister said that he would dissolve the assembly whenever Khan says.

“We have done all the work within the ambit of the law and the constitution,” he added.

Legal fraternity's opinion

While almost all lawyers and legislative affairs experts agree that a chief minister has the prerogative to ask the governor to dissolve a provincial assembly, there is a chance that the matter in the case of Punjab at least could end up in the courts.

Journalist and lawyer Muneeb Farooq said: “Article 112 is pretty straightforward: any chief minister against whom a vote of no-confidence has been issued cannot advise the governor to dissolve the assembly.

In the case of the Punjab Assembly, no notification has been issued against Elahi for a vote of no-confidence because the session has been going on for a while and has not been prorogued and so, the resolution for the motion of a vote of no-confidence has not been tabled. 

And, since the resolution has not been tabled, the notice has not been issued so technically the chief minister can dissolve the assembly but this may go into the court at the end of the day."

Supreme Court Advocate Salman Raja said: “In any case, it is the CM’s prerogative to ask the governor to dissolve the assembly — in which case the governor just has to do so.”

PILDAT President Ahmad Bilal Mehboob agreed that the Constitution stipulates that an assembly cannot be dissolved by a CM if a no-confidence motion is pending.