The ruling coalition on Saturday demanded the Supreme Court of Pakistan form a full court bench to hear the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Pervaiz Elahi’s petition against Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari’s rejection of 10 votes cast for the provincial chief minister.
A day earlier, Mazari had rejected 10 votes cast by lawmakers of the Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid), citing a letter written by party chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and a recent ruling of the Supreme Court on Article 63A of the Constitution, resulting in PMLN’s Hamza Shehbaz being elected chief minister of Punjab. Within hours, the PTI and Elahi had filed a petition before the Supreme Court seeking a reversal of the order.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial formed a three-member bench—comprising himself and Justices Ijazul Ahsan and Munib Akhtar—to hear the case and commenced hearings on Saturday morning. The court has summoned Punjab Assembly Deputy Speaker Dost Mohammad Mazari to “explain” the reasons for his rejection of the votes, adding that he should also submit the complete record of the election.
Similar notices have also been issued to Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz, Attorney General for Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf, Advocate General of Punjab Shahzad Shaukat and the Punjab chief secretary.
In a joint statement, the ruling coalition at the center issued a “strenuous” demand for a full court hearing of the case. “In the interest of justice, a full court comprising all honorable judges of the Supreme Court should hear all petitions [linked to Article 63A], including the one filed by the Supreme Court Bar, and deliver its verdict, because it is a very important national, political and constitutional issue,” it said.
Stressing that the political instability resulting from such cases was invoking a heavy price from the national economy—which is in danger of default—and the public in the form of inflation, unemployment, and poverty, it accused PTI Chairman Imran Khan of repeatedly inciting chaos in politics. “[Imran Khan’s] aim is to avoid accountability, hide his corruption and gain power through backdoors,” it added.
“The Constitution has drawn clear lines between the authority of the judiciary, legislature and administration, which an arrogant figure of anti-constitutional fascism is trying to erase,” it said, referring to Khan. “He wants to bankrupt Pakistan’s Constitution, people’s right to rule and the democratic system as well as the economy,” it added.
“This mindset and attitude has become a termite for the state of Pakistan,” it alleged. “The parties comprising the ruling coalition reiterate that there can be no compromise on the Constitution, democracy, and the people’s right to rule,” the statement emphasized. “All coalition parties will continue to move together in every forum,” it added.