In a major setback to the incumbent government, the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday declared PML-N leader Hamza Shahbaz’s election as chief minister of Punjab void.
Accepting PTI’s pleas against Hamza’s election, which was held on April 16, the LHC ordered the recounting of votes instructing that the votes of 25 dissident PTI lawmakers be excluded from the counting process.
If Hamza does not secure 186 votes in the 371-member strong house to stay the CM, the election will be held again under Article 130(4) unless another candidate has majority votes.
The verdict was announced by a five-member bench comprising Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan, Justice Shahid Jamil Khan, Justice Shehram Sarwar Chaudhry, Justice Sajid Mahmood Sethi, and Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh with a 4-1 majority.
According to Dawn, a Punjab Assembly (PA) session for the recounting of votes and re-election will be held on July 1, 2022 (tomorrow) at 4 pm.
“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.”
It directed the governor to perform his duty, under Article 130(5), of administering oath “without hesitation” before 11 am the next day.
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The LHC said, “any attempt of disorder from any quarter shall be taken as contempt of court and shall be proceeded accordingly by this larger bench on formal information by any person.”
Hamza was elected as the Punjab CM on April 16 in a ruckus-marred Punjab Assembly session. He won with a total of 197 votes, including from 25 dissident PTI MPAs. But on May 20, ECP de-seated those lawmakers for defecting.
After the LHC’s order, Hamza’s tally has been trimmed to 172 votes. Therefore, as per the court’s order, re-election is bound to be held.