Islamabad: Pakistan’s coalition government has criticised the Supreme Court’s decision not to form a full bench to hear a key case related to the contentious election of the Punjab chief minister and announced that it would boycott the court proceedings.
On Monday the Supreme Court refused to form a full bench to hear a case related to the re-election of Hamza Shehbaz as the Chief Minister of Punjab province, saying it will have to hear more arguments before taking a decision on the issue.
Jamiat Ulema-I-IslamFazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman at a press conference in Islamabad said that the government lawyers recommended a full bench but the court instead of reflecting and accepting the advice, rejected it.
JUI-F is a coalition partner in the Pakistan government headed by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
“The allies of all parties want to give a clear stance that if (our request for a) full court bench is rejected then we, too, reject this decision of the court. We will not appear before this bench for this case and will boycott it,” he said.
A three-member apex court bench comprising Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhter on Monday heard the main petition filed by Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, who was the candidate for the chief minister’s slot.
Elahi secured 186 votes against 179 votes of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) candidate Hamza but lost after Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari rejected 10 votes of his Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) lawmakers.
Mazari refused to count the vote after party chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain through a letter directed his party lawmakers to vote for Hamza, son of Prime Minister Sharif and PML-N president.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, who is from the Pakistan People’s Party, reaffirmed the boycott call, saying that the demand for a full court was for the sake of the Constitution, democracy and the court’s own integrity.
“This case is about Parliament and when you are giving decisions about an institution, we think your entire institution should sit and decide,” he said.
“Had a full court listened to us then the entire country would’ve accepted your decision,” he added.
PML-N Vice President Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said it was a “test” for the apex court since it was a requirement of justice that a judge or bench recuse themselves from a case in which fingers were raised on them.
“This is done in every court in the world where there is rule of law and the Constitution,” he said.
Abbasi said the three judges of the existing bench had the responsibility to decide whether or not history would accept their conduct.
The coalition leaders met at the Prime Minister’s House after the Supreme Court’s decision on Monday.
Separately, PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz also criticised the decision to reject the petition for the full bench.
“When the decisions are not in accordance with the Constitution, law and justice, there is a danger from the full court. Because with the involvement of honest judges, the flaws of a decision come to the fore and people know that the decision is not based on the Constitution and the law, but personal preferences,” she said.