Hamza Shehbaz said the Supreme Court’s interpretation of Article 63-A of the Constitution – which disqualified the dissident PTI members – did not apply to his election as Punjab Chief Minister.
He stated it in his response submitted to the Lahore High Court (LHC) petitions challenging his election as the CM, including that of the PTI.
He further implored the court to dismiss petitioner Munir Ahmed’s plea challenging his election “with costs.”
On April 16, Hamza was elected as the province’s chief executive during a chaotic provincial assembly session.
He received a total of 197 votes of the required 186, including from 25 dissident PTI MPAs.
But in a verdict on May 17, the SC said the votes of defecting lawmakers were not to be counted during a chief minister’s election.
Subsequently, the Election Commission de-seated those MPAs from the Punjab Assembly under Article 63-A, raising questions regarding his election.
On May 19, the PTI challenged Hamza’s election in the LHC, and the court had sought the embattled chief minister’s reply on the matter.
He failed to reply on this matter, thus prompting the SC to fine him and the Punjab government Rs100,000 each at the previous hearing on May 25.
In Hamza’s 16-page reply submitted by lawyer Khalid Ishaq, he explained that the election was held on April 16, while the SC issued the interpretation of Article 63-A on May 17. Hence, the election could not be governed by the SC order.
Hamza added, “it is settled law that any interpretation/annunciation of law by the superior courts is not to apply retrospectively unless expressly stated otherwise.”
He stressed that the SC order was in connection with a no-confidence motion and that “it cannot be said to have affected the said election.”
He pointed out that the vote was “conducted strictly according to the Constitution in compliance with the orders passed by the Honorable Court” and thus “cannot be said to have been a result of any mala fide.”
Meanwhile, said Hamza needed 186 votes to win the chief minister’s election, and he bagged 197, including those casted by the 25 dissidents PTI MPAs.
Hence, “Hamza has now lost his majority,” the lawyer said. “Our case is that after the Supreme Court’s interpretation, if the votes of dissident lawmakers are discounted, Hamza loses his majority.”
“The question is not whether the Supreme Court’s decision could be applied retrospectively, but the question is that what has it decided,” he said.
In response, LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti asked if the decision was applied retrospectively, will all past decisions be reversed as well.
PTI’s lawyer Zafar further said the ECP had denotified the dissident lawmakers. “This means we are going by the election commission’s decision because it has denotified [them].”
The LHC CJ noted that the SC’s short order stated that dissident lawmakers’ votes would not be counted and adjourned the hearing till Tuesday.