Pak govt to move SC for full bench on cases related to re-election of Punjab CM

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Islamabad, Pakistan’s ruling coalition government is expected to file a petition in the Supreme Court on Monday for the formation of a full court bench to hear cases related to the interpretation of the Article 63-A of the Constitution and the contentious re-election of Hamza Shehbaz as the chief minister of Punjab province.

Article 63-A of the Constitution is related to the status of defecting lawmakers. Article 63-A was inserted into the Constitution with an intention of the authors to prevent horse-trading through the exercise of party discipline.

Hamza, the son of Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, on Saturday took oath as the Chief Minister of the Punjab province, a day after he was re-elected to the post by just three votes amidst high drama when Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari rejected 10 crucial votes of his rival candidate Chaudhry Parvez Elahi.

In the 368-member Punjab Assembly, Hamza’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) received 179 votes, while Elahi’s party garnered 176 votes.

Elahi, who was also backed by former premier Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, later moved the Supreme Court (SC), which allowed Hamza to remain as the trustee Punjab province Chief Minister till the hearing resumes on Monday but barred him from using his powers for political gains during this period.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial had also remarked that prima facie, the Deputy Speaker’s ruling was against the apex court’s verdict in the Article 63-A reference.

After the Supreme Court’s decision, the PML-N began publicly pushing for a full court bench and questioned the one-sidedness of the decision from a particular bench of the apex court.

The government alliance has now decided to formally move the apex court over the issue, the information minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said on Sunday.

The leaders of the alliance will go to the apex court on Monday with their lawyers to request the formation of a full court bench that jointly hears cases related to the election of Punjab’s chief minister, the Supreme Court Bar Association’s (SCBA) review petition of the SC’s opinion on Article 63-A and other related petitions.

The statement said the PPP, PML-N and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl will go to the SC, while the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, Balochistan National Party, Balochistan Awami Party and other allied parties will be among the petitioners as well.

“The lawyers of all the parties will argue in the Supreme Court on Article 63-A of the Constitution,” the statement said.

It comes a day after the ruling alliance issued a declaration, demanding that the chief justice of Pakistan constitute a full court to hear the petition against the Punjab chief minister’s election, calling it an important national, political and constitutional matter .