Friday October 07, 2022

Punjab CM election: Ruling alliance makes strong case for full court

PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman also calls for the formation of a full court bench of the Supreme Court to hear the case.

By News Desk & our correspondents
July 25, 2022
Punjab CM election: Ruling alliance makes strong case for full court

ISLAMABAD: The coalition government and member parties of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) Sunday decided to file a petition in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, seeking the formation of a full bench to hear the case related to the Punjab chief minister’s election.

The country’s top court will hear the petition, filed by the PTI against the ruling of Punjab Deputy Speaker Dost Mazari during the election of CM Punjab.

At the time of the voting process, Mazari, citing Article 63(A) of the Constitution, had rejected 10 votes of Pakistan Muslim League Quaid (PMLQ) members. As a result, Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN) candidate Hamza Shehbaz was able to retain his post as chief minister by defeating Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidate Pervaiz Elahi with three votes.

Unhappy with Mazari’s decision and terming it “unconstitutional and illegal”, Pervaiz Elahi and the PTI had approached the apex court in this regard.

In the petition, to be filed on Monday (today), the government and its allies would demand the formation of a full bench, and not a larger bench, to hear the Punjab CM election case.

Aside from PMLN, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUIF), the petitioner parties include Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQMP), Awami National Party (ANP), Balochistan National Party (BNP) and Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) among others.

PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman also called for the formation of a full court bench of the Supreme Court to hear the case. A three-judge bench would not fulfil all the requirements of justice, he added. “We are not taking away the right of decision from the court but rather seeking a verdict from a larger forum,” he said while addressing a press conference.

The Maulana said a new argument had erupted between the party head and the parliamentary party. He added that only the party head is the final decision maker in democracies across the world, irrespective of whether he is a part of parliament. He said that the election of the Punjab chief minister was an important event and expressed concern on how the matter was taken to the court right away. He added that the court immediately took up the petition, which suggests that it was under some pressure.

Hinting at the judiciary, the PDM chief said that interference from the institutions and politics was weakening the state. “Let the government rule. We accepted the government in critical times,” he said and accused some individuals in the institutions of covertly being part of a political party.

He claimed that even at this time, some people were supporting the PTI. “Get retired and contest on the ground,” he challenged the individuals he was referring to.

Maulana Fazl said Imran Khan’s politics was based on a fake narrative and that he had no ideology or belief. He asked who was giving protection to Imran Khan in the foreign funding case.

Adviser to Prime Minister on Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Qamar Zaman Kaira, separately, criticised PTI Chairman Imran Khan for blaming and threatening the state institutions. Instead of hurling threats on his opponents and all institutions, Imran Khan and the other opposition party should sit with the ruling coalition on a table and talk out all issues, he advised.

Addressing a press conference in Lala Musa, he alleged that the PMLQ members violated the direction of the party head while casting their votes during the Punjab CM election process, adding that there was no space for such things in the Constitution. Kaira claimed that not the parliamentary party but the party head was mandated to decide on the vote issues.

He also rejected the term of trustee chief minister. He called for constitution of a full court bench for hearing the current political and constitutional crisis in Punjab. He said the government and its allies would accept the court decision. He said like the judiciary, army and political institutions should also be respected. He said parliament makes the Constitution and the rest of the institutions are established according to the Constitution. Therefore, parliament and politicians should be respected the most.

Kaira said Asif Ali Zardari was already in Lahore before the conduct of the by-elections, and he was trying to strengthen the PPP in Punjab. Chaudhry Shujaat’s point of view was that “we will not vote for Imran Khan’s candidate”. When Ch Shujaat reached a consensus with the PPP, Muslim League-N and PDM alliance that Pervaiz Elahi would be their candidate for the chief ministership, the whole nation heard him. What happened in one night that Pervaiz Elahi joined Tehreek-e-Insaf? Chaudhry Shujaat admitted that Elahi had done wrong. He said that was an undemocratic decision. To say that any kind of pressure was put on Shujaat Hussain was a complete misrepresentation. “He and his sons are still standing with us,” Kaira said.

Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar said that there was no mala fide intent involved in the demand to form a full bench. “I am not demanding formation of a full court with any kind of mala fide intent. This case will have far-reaching consequences on future politics,” said the law minister, adding that 220 million people’s votes should not be violated.

“MPAs are liable to vote on the instructions of the party chief. The matter is so serious that the decisions given in 2015 and 2018 will also be violated,” said Tarar. The court should hear the full court’s demand seriously, urged the minister.

“Last time, 25 of our votes were removed. This decision was made by the judges included in the same bench,” said Tarar.

Azam Tarar said five former presidents of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Latif Afridi, Yasin Azad, Fazal Haq Abbasi, Kamran Mustafa and Qalb-e-Abbas had also made the same demand.

Punjab Home Minister Attaullah Tarar said a full bench of the Supreme Court should hear the petition of PTI and PMLQ against the ruling of the Punjab Assembly deputy speaker. He said the PMLN candidate Hamza Shehbaz was elected according to the Constitution interpreted by the SC. He alleged that Fawad Chaudhry and Hammad Azhar were running a campaign based on allegations.

Information Minister and PMLN spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said “he who abuses and threatens institutions should not portray themselves as their representative”. She said that Imran Khan “will not be allowed to play the game of establishment and anti-establishment to return to power” and no one would be allowed to mess with the Constitution and the law.

Aurangzeb said that Khan “admitted that he took the help of institutions and agencies to run the government for four years”.

“We will not allow the murder of justice with this bullying, these threats and insults. The narrative of Nawaz Sharif and Muslim League-N is and will remain in line with the Constitution,” she continued, adding: “Stop dragging the army and judiciary into politics.”

She alleged it was Imran Khan who was targeting the institutions and that he seeks to remove their leadership. “Imran Khan’s narrative of a foreign conspiracy abroad has been buried and now a narrative of establishment and anti-establishment has begun,” Aurangzeb alleged.

The PMLN leader called upon the Election Commission to decide on the foreign funding case soon, the verdict for which was reserved last month.

“Imran Khan wants an NRO in the foreign funding case through bullying, intimidation, chaos, riots and hooliganism,” she claimed.

The minister called for a full court bench to hear the case related to the election of the chief minister of Punjab. “Justice on important national, political and constitutional matters should not only be done, it should also be seen to be done,” she said.

“Due to the instability created by Imran Khan, the economy faces the risk of default. People are paying the price of Imran Khan’s economic destruction in the form of inflation, unemployment and poverty.

“Imran Sahib wants to avoid accountability, hide his corruption and gain power through back channels. Now, this war is against the fascism of the arrogant, anti-constitutional Imran sahib,” she said further.

The minister said the government “will not let the people and institutions of Pakistan become slaves to the wishes of Khan”.

“We will not let the democratic and constitutional system go bankrupt,” Aurangzeb added.