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Elahi’s petition against Mazari’s ruling: SC proceedings via video link underway

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LAHORE: The Supreme Court is hearing PML-Q leader Pervez Elahi’s petition against Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Mazari’s ruling in the Punjab chief minister’s election and has decided to conduct proceedings via video link.

The decision was made after the courtroom door was damaged following a rush of people trying to get through.

The video link room has been opened and only the respondents’ lawyers will now be allowed to be present in person.

The media is not allowed to enter the courtroom.

A three-member bench — headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, and comprising Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar — is holding the hearing at the Supreme Court’s Lahore registry.

The court had summoned Mazari, and sent notices to Chief Minister Punjab Hamza Shahbaz, the Punjab chief secretary and the advocate general for Punjab.

Barristers Ali Zafar, Imtiaz Siddiqui, and Safdar Shaheen Advocate have appeared on behalf of Elahi, while Advocate Mansoor Usman Awan is representing Hamza Shahbaz.

Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari is being represented by Advocate Irfan Qadir.

Additional Attorney General Aamir Rehman and Advocate General Punjab Shahzad Shaukat have appeared for judicial assistance.

Among PTI leaders in the courtroom are Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Asad Umar, Fawad Chaudhary, Umar Ayub, Zulfi Bukhari, Sibtain Khan, Umar Sarfraz Cheema, Usman Buzdar and Andalib Abbas.

The top court also sent notices to Chief Minister Punjab Hamza Shahbaz, the Punjab chief secretary and the advocate general for Punjab.

As the hearing began, the chief justice asked Mazari’s lawyer if he has the waqalat naama (power of attorney) for Mazari, to which Advocate Qadir replied in the affirmative.

The first half of the hearing

Prior to the court being adjourned in the morning, PTI’s counsel Barrister Ali Zafar informed the court that during yesterday’s Punjab Assembly session, re-election of the province’s chief minister took place.

Justice Ahsan asked the lawyer how many lawmakers were present during the session, to which he responded that 370 members of the assembly were in attendance.

Zafar argued that Elahi secured 186 votes and Hamza bagged 179 votes, therefore, in line with the Constitution of Pakistan, the PML-Q leader is the chief minister.

The SC’s opinion in the May order, Zafar said, states that the parliamentary party can give directions to lawmakers on whom to vote for, and the PML-Q’s parliamentary party decided to back Elahi, but despite that, Mazari dismissed 10 PML-Q votes.

“They ignored the parliamentary party’s decision,” Zafar said.

At this, the chief justice said that all the relevant parties — deputy speaker, chief minister, and Punjab attorney-general — should be issued notices so they can provide their version.

“We wish to personally hear from the deputy speaker. Only the deputy speaker can tell us which paragraph he was referring to,” Justice Bandial said.

CJP Bandial said that the deputy speaker should come to the court with all the relevant documents and not be “frightened” as this is “just a legal procedure”.

The CJP then adjourned the hearing till 2:30pm.

Later a short order was issued by the court.

“The matter in issue seems more likely to be a controversy regarding the proper understanding or comprehension of the statement of law in our aforesaid judgement (paragraph 3 in Article 63A’s order) rather than of interpretation as such of a constitutional provision,” the short written order read.

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