The election for the new Chief Minister (CM) of Punjab will take place today. The PML-N’s Hamza Sharif and the PML- Q’s Pervaiz Elahi are both running for the position of Punjab chief minister.
At an earlier hearing, a division bench of the Lahore High Court on Friday ordered that the election for the province’s new chief minister be conducted in a fair, transparent, and unbiased manner on April 16 by Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari.
The bench also asked the deputy speaker to make arrangements for national and international observers, journalists, representatives of PILDAT, Fafen, and other organizations, among others, to attend the election for the position of the chief minister.
The chief secretary and the inspector general of police were instructed to guarantee that a perfect security plan was in place on the day of the election by a two-judge bench consisting of Justice Jawad Hassan and Justice Shujaat Ali Khan.
Present in the court, IGP Rao Sardar Ali claimed that all possible precautions had been taken to ensure the safe and orderly arrival of MPAs to the assembly, whereas internal security would be handled by the secretary of the assembly in collaboration with the security personnel.
Chief Secretary Kamran Ali Afzal, who was in attendance before the court, stated that all departments had been asked to make the election for the leader of the house of the provincial legislature as smooth as possible.
Following the bench’s observation that, in the event of a complaint from either party, swift action will be taken against the offender.
After a single judge imposed the condition that the deputy speaker presides over the chair during the election of the chief minister despite the fact that the deputy speaker had himself approached the court seeking permission to conduct the election, the speaker and the PML-Q filed a petition in which they claimed the decision was unconstitutional.
They further contended that a no-confidence motion against the deputy speaker was now pending in the House.
The two-judge panel, on the other hand, dismissed the appellants’ arguments and confirmed the verdict of the single-judge panel.
The bench observes in its 31-page judgment that, because the speaker is unable to preside over the assembly due to his participation in the election for the position of the chief minister, the deputy speaker shall exercise the powers of the speaker under Section 53(3) of the Constitution for the purpose of holding the elections scheduled for April 16.
It states that because Mr. Elahi, the speaker, has submitted nomination papers to run for the position of the chief minister, he is unable to discharge his duties as speaker; as a result, Mr. Mazari, the deputy speaker, has taken over the post of the speaker by operation of law.
Taking a broad view of the regulations, the bench notes that it is crystal obvious that a question regarding the conduct of a legislative session through the panel of chairmen arises only when the speaker or deputy speaker is unable to attend for a variety of legitimate reasons.
Furthermore, the bench states that the subject cannot be sent to the panel of chairmen at the whim of the appellants when the deputy speaker is present.
It is noted by the bench that “it is extremely strange to note that, on the one hand, the appellants are of the opinion that this court cannot intrude into the internal affairs of the assembly while, on the other hand, they are pressing hard for passing an order in contravention of the Rules of 1997.”
Another argument advanced by the appellants was rejected by the court, which stated that because the motion of no confidence against the deputy speaker is not being heard at the session of the assembly scheduled for April 16, he cannot be considered incapable to preside over the session.
The appeals against the verdict of the single bench were dismissed as a result of these observations of the bench.