LHC written order in Punjab CM election - PTI jubilation turned into disappointment

LHC in written order directed to recount the votes after excluding the 25 votes of PTI defectors on July 01 at 4 pm 

PTI leaders were jubilant when LHC announced its short order to accept PTI petitions against the election of Shahbaz Sharif as CM Punjab. PTI was expecting that the election of Hamza Shahbaz as CM Punjab will be declared null and void and fresh election of CM Punjab will be ordered. But this jubilation was short lived and written order turned celebration into disappointment.  

 They were thinking that they got what they wanted. They prematurely celebrated their victory. They hailed the decision as the victory for PTI, constitution and democracy. But mood of PTI leaders changed when LHC released its written order.

A larger bench of the LHC headed by Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan  and comprising Justice Shahid Jamil, Justice Shehram Sarwar, Justice Sajid Mehmood Sethi and Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh issued the 4-1 verdict today. Justice Sajid Mehmood Sethi dissented with his fellow judges.

In a short order issued after the hearing, the LHC instructed that votes in the election held on April 16 be recounted after excluding 25 votes of the defecting lawmakers. If the required majority for Hamza  which is 186 votes in the 371-member strong house  to stay the CM is not secured, the election will be held again under Article 130(4), unless another candidate has majority votes.

According to Article 130(4), in the second round of voting, a member will not require 186 votes but simply needs a majority of those "present and voting" to be elected the chief minister.

The court said that Hamza will cease to be the chief minister if he loses the required majority after the exclusion of 25 votes by the presiding officer. However, it pointed out, functions performed and powers exercised by Hamza will be "protected under the de facto doctrine" in accordance with the law.

For the recounting of votes and re-election, if required, a PA session will be held on July 1 (tomorrow) at 4pm. The LHC stressed that the session cannot be prorogued until the election process was completed and the presiding officer "intimated the result of the elected chief minister to the governor".

The governor shall perform his duty, under Article 130(5), of administering oath without any hesitation, at any time before 11am the very next day, it directed.

The court added that "any attempt of disorder from any quarter shall be taken as contempt of court and shall be preceded accordingly by this larger bench on formal information by any person".

Hamza was elected as the Punjab CM on April 16 during a provincial assembly session that was marred by violence. He received a total of 197 votes — 11 more than the required 186 — including from 25 dissident PTI MPAs that were crucial for his victory. On May 20, those lawmakers were de-seated by the ECP for defecting.

After the LHC's order of excluding the votes of 25 defecting members, Hamza's tally has now been trimmed to 172 votes, which no longer holds the strength of the house. Therefore, as per the court's order, a re-election is bound to be held.

The PTI and PML-Q had challenged the election of Hamza Shahbaz which took place on April 16 in a chaotic session. Now, the same candidates, Hamza Shahbaz and Pervez Elahi, will run for the position again.

The PTI has announced to challenge the LHC decision in the Supreme Court tomorrow.


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