Governor asks president to declare Punjab CM election void

Punjab Governor Omar Sarfraz Cheema has asked President Arif Alvi to declare the election of the Punjab chief minister held earlier this month void, highlighting “constitutional violations” in the process.

The six-page report came to light a day after the Lahore High Court (LHC) asked President Alvi to appoint someone else instead of Cheema for the oath-taking of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Hamza Shehbaz who emerged victorious in the election of the CM on April 16.

The Punjab governor alleged that the voting record of the election was “tampered” with along with the violation of the Rules of Business.

In his report, Cheema said that the process of the CM election violated the Constitution. He added the police entered the Punjab Assembly in violation of the assembly rules and members of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) were allegedly stopped from voting in the election.

He pointed out that the voting procedure was in “sheer violation” of the Second Schedule of the Constitution and was against the “spirit of directions” given by the high court. He said that this was tantamount to conducting the whole proceedings in an “unfair, non-transparent and partial way”, which was a direct violation of the deputy speaker’s oath.

As per Rule 21 of the Rules of the Business of the Punjab Assembly, the speaker is supposed to intimate the governor about the outcome of the election and the governor needed to be satisfied with the election of the leader of the house, Cheema wrote in his report.

He, therefore, stated as per his constitutional understanding and his conscience as the governor, under Article 130 (5) he could not administer oath of office to a chief minister-elect whose status was “extremely disputed”.

Read Hamza – third Sharif to take Punjab’s crown

The report also raised questions over former chief minister Usman Buzdar’s resignation which “violated Sub-Section 8 of Article 130”. The governor’s office never received the resignation of Buzdar so how could it have accepted it, the report claimed.

Cheema urged the president to declare the election void in the light of information shared with him. He asked the president for constitutional advice on the issue in the wake of the circumstances in Punjab.

On the other hand, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb on Sunday claimed that Hamza would take the oath of office “even if the entire PTI falls ill”, including President Alvi and Governor Cheema.

It is worth recalling here that as the impasse over the chief minister election continued, the now ruling party, PML-N, moved the LHC to obtain a court order for immediate swearing-in ceremony for the CM-elect.

This move followed an unsuccessful bid to oust the governor, who contended that under the Constitution he could only be dismissed by the president.

The government sent a summary to President Alvi for his removal, but the latter allowed Cheema to continue as governor until a decision was made on the summary.

At the same time, reports emerged that the principal secretary to the governor had taken the position that under any circumstance, he could not refuse to administer the oath of CM Office to an elected person. He added that withholding the same would be tantamount to violation of the Constitution.

Read Hamza Shehbaz will take CM oath, even if entire PTI falls ill: Marriyum

As the government and the former ruling party locked horns over the matter, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also held his first meeting with President Alvi, wherein he discussed the political situation, particularly the matter of Hamza’s swearing-in as the chief minister of Punjab. However, the current situation revealed that no middle ground could be reached by the two sides during the meeting.

Hamza, the son of PM Shehbaz, was elected as the chief minister after garnering 197 votes in the Punjab Assembly in a highly chaotic session of the provincial legislature. The session, which was marred by violence, saw Hamza’s rival with Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi boycotting the vote after being physically assaulted.

However, when the session continued in his absence, and the PML-N leader was elected the leader of the house, Elahi, the rival candidate, declared the election “illegal”.

The way the election was conducted became a bone of contention between the major political parties of the country. These political tensions were further aggravated when the governor refused to administer the oath of office to Hamza.

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