President Dr Arif Alvi has asked Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to reconsider his advice about appointing a new governor of Punjab, as Omar Sarfraz Cheema still holds the office "and there is no occasion to propose a new appointment".
The president referred to his secretariat’s earlier communication dated May 9, and reiterated that “the Governor shall hold office during the pleasure of the President”, as envisaged by Article 101(2) of the Constitution."
He added that the present circumstances demanded that the incumbent governor should continue to hold that position.
The president also referenced the Punjab governor’s letter from April 23 as well as a report dated May 4. These highlighted "that the change in loyalties of the PTI members in the Punjab Assembly’s chief minister election, and the cobbling of the majority by illegal means had generated serious governance issues in the province as well as violated the Article 63-A of the Constitution."
Read Federal govt sacks Punjab governor
The president further emphasised that the principled stand of the current Punjab governor had been vindicated by the recent pronouncement of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, on Reference No. 1 of 2022, moved by the president of Pakistan.
He underscored that the governor's stance was further augmented by the decision of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), which declared the defection and changing of loyalties by the 25 Punjab MPAs in the election for Punjab chief as the “worst form of betraying the electorate and party’s policy”.
He added that the 25 defecting MPAs had ceased to be members of the Punjab Assembly, as per ECP’s decision.
In view of the courts’ decisions, President Alvi asked the premier to reconsider his advice about the appointment of a new Punjab governor in accordance with Article 48(1) of the Constitution.
IHC forms larger bench
A day earlier, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) dismissed the Registrar Office's objections in the petition filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Omar Sarfraz Cheema against his removal as Punjab governor.
The high court constituted a larger bench which will be presided over by Chief Justice Athar Minallah.
Petitioner's counsel Babar Awan argued over the objections raised by the Registrar's Office, stating that the office raised two objections. The lawyer stated that the first objection raised was regarding attaching a WhatsApp copy of the governor being de-notified from his post.
“We were actually not provided a copy of the dismissal notification,” Awan argued.
The second objection raised was concerning the jurisdiction of the court, as the Assistant Registrar Asad Khan stated that the matter belonged to Punjab.
The chief justice remarked that the de-notification process was done by the federation, adding that the president's powers, and where they are binding on him have already been made clear.
Read more LHC allows Punjab AG to continue working
However, the counsel argued that the authority of the president is one thing and his functions another.
In response, CJ Minallah stated that the government functions on a parliamentary system and not a presidential system of government. “This issue came up when you were the law minister and it has been decided on,” he added.
In the petition, filed through lawyer Babar Awan, Cheema maintained that the governor was the representative of the president in the province and not part of the executive.
The governor could remain in office for as long as the president pleased, the plea stated.
The petition claimed that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had illegally removed him from office to benefit his son, Hamza. Cheema challenged the notification of his removal from office, saying that it was issued without any authority.