Lahore High Court seeks arguments from Hamza's counsel

A Lahore High Court larger bench on Thursday sought arguments from a counsel for Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz whether the court could nominate anyone to administer oath to a chief minister-elect if the governor refused to do so.

The bench headed by Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan was hearing appeals of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) against three orders passed by single benches for oath-taking of Chief Minister Hamza.

Resuming his arguments, Advocate Mansoor Usman Awan, the counsel for Hamza, said the governor had no power to refuse oath to a chief minister even if it was written in the Constitution that votes of defectors were not counted. He said the governor could ask the chief minister for a vote of confidence but only after administering oath even if he believed that the election was not lawful. He said the presiding officer had the power to hold scrutiny of the votes.

PTI’s counsel Imtiaz Rasheed Siddiqui interrupted the chief minister’s counsel and said “then what power does the governor have.”

The bench asked the PTI’s counsel not to disrupt the proceedings and wait for his turn.

Later, the bench asked Mr Siddiqui about the letter of the then governor written to the president on the matter of the CM election. The counsel read the letter and said he personally believed that the governor was not given the right advice.

The bench asked former advocate general Ahmad Awais who was also present in court for his point of view as he had given the advice to the governor. Mr Awais said there was an extraordinary situation in the province.

The bench asked Mr Awais if he owned his advice as the governor refused to administer oath to the chief minister after his legal advice. The former advocate general said his advice was based on factual position.

The bench adjourned further hearing till June 28 and observed that the hearing would be completed before summer vacation in courts.

The appeals filed by the PTI argued that court had no jurisdiction to issue directions to the president of Pakistan and the governor. The appeals further argued that the PTI, the speaker, the governor and the president had not been given an opportunity of hearing by the court while issuing the impugned orders.

A single bench in its April 22 order had ruled that the governor could not refuse oath to a newly-elected chief minister of a province and expected that the president of Pakistan would nominate any person to administer oath to CM-elect Hamza without any delay.

The same bench, in its April 27 order on another petition of Mr Hamza, had advised the Punjab governor to ensure completion of the process of the administration of oath to the CM-elect, either himself or through his nominee within a day.

The third order was passed by another single bench on a third petition of Hamza wherein the National Assembly speaker was asked to administer oath to the CM-elect.

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