On Friday, the Lahore High Court directed the Punjab advocate general to submit in writing the reasons why the Governor was not taking the oath of the Chief Minister-elect Hamza Shahbaz. The crisis erupted after governor Omar Cheema’s reluctance to administer the oath of the son of Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif. Shortly after, Federal Minister for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb apprised a local media channel that the government was sending a request before the President to remove the Governor from his office.
Simultaneously, the new Chief Minister-elect Hamza Shahbaz also moved a petition before the Lahore High Court to avert a “constitutional crisis.” Reviewing the petition, the court inquired from the provincial advocate general why the Governor had refused to administer the oath, to which the Governor responded that the Governor had submitted his reasons, in writing, to the President.
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It is pertinent to mention that on April 16, Hamza Shahbaz bagged an easy victory for the Chief Minister seat after securing 197 votes in the house of 371 members. After his decisive victory, the acting speaker, Dost Muhammad Mazari, informed the Punjab governor about the result as per the legal requirements. However, the Governor did not invite Hamza Shahbaz to take the oath of new Chief Minister-elect, effectively stopping him from officially taking up the seat. The attorney general confirmed before the court and said that “he had talked to the governor and he is not going to administer the oath.” The court responded that the “province is effectively disabled” because it does not have a functioning governing body over it.
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The Lahore High Court bench headed by Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti said, “the governor is not acting in accordance with the law.” The court further added that the “governors position is the most respectable position in the whole province and we are duty bound to respect the position” however he added that the governor too should depict responsibility for us to give it the respect it merits. The court additionally maintained that it believed that the Governor was acting upon the advice of the advocate general, to which the attorney general responded that “I am only giving him [governor] legal advice.” The court ordered the attorney general to submit in writing the reasons why the Governor was not taking the oath of the new CM, to which the AG responded that only Governor Punjab could tell this in front of the court.
Reacting to a comment made by the defendant, the court said, “you are repeatedly mentioning elections; the matter is way past that.”
Finally, before adjourning the session till 2 PM, the court added that if the Governor fails to present in writing the reasons behind why he is not agreeing to administer the oath before the next session commences, then the decision will be based as per the dictates of the law.