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LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday reserved its verdict on different petitions filed for holding election of the Punjab chief minister.

LHC Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti reserved the verdict after hearing detailed arguments of the parties on petitions filed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Hamza Shehbaz and Deputy Speaker Punjab Assembly Dost Muhammad Mazari for holding elections of Punjab chief minister and revocation of deputy speaker powers, respectively.

During the proceedings, Hamza Shehbaz’s counsel Azam Nazir Tarar argued before the court and said that the deputy speaker had taken charge of his office on the court directions.

However, Barrister Ali Zafar on behalf of Speaker Punjab Assembly Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi argued that the court did not have power to interfere in assembly matters. “Courts and assembly cannot interfere in each others work and if such interference happened then conflict will take place,” he added.

He said that if there was a constitutional requirement then the court could hear the matter for its implementation only. He submitted that the provincial assembly was a constitutional body and it carried out legislation. He submitted that the matter did not fall under the jurisdiction of High

Court and no question could be raised in the court overstep of the parliament under Article- 69.

Ali Zafar submitted that as per rules of business, the court could not intervene in the matters of the assembly. He submitted that parliament and courts respect each other and did not intervene in the domain of each others.

He further argued that the petitioners had stated that assembly rules were not being implemented, which was a matter of the assembly. If the speaker refuses to hold the election then it would be a constitutional matter and the court has the jurisdiction to hear such a matter, he added. He submitted that fixing of date was not a constitutional matter, therefore, the court did not have the power to hear it, he added.

At this stage, the chief justice observed that as per law, the election for the leader of house must be held as soon as possible and it was mandatory to complete nomination papers a day earlier for the purpose.

To which, Ali Zafar replied that the election of chief minister would soon be held, adding that a three days time period would not make any difference. The rules would decide about the powers of speakers and their use, he added.

The chief justice questioned that the speaker was a candidate of chief minister-ship then why he withdrew powers of the deputy speaker.

The PML-Q’s counsel Imtiaz Rasheed submitted that the speaker would not use powers on the day of the election, adding that the court did not have powers to hear the matter. He submitted that the PML-N held the meeting outside assembly and tried to form a government in the presence of one.

However, the chief justice observed that no one could assume the office without taking oath.

Imtiaz Rasheed pleaded with the court to dismiss the petitions and issue directions for holding elections on April 16.

At this, the chief justice questioned how the house would be conducted on April 16 or any other date.

The speaker’s counsel argued that deputy speaker was an alternate to the speaker and if both were not present, then the house would be run by a panel.

The court adjourned the hearing of petitions for a short while.

Later, as the proceedings resumed, Barrister Ali Zafar submitted that now deputy speaker could not perform as a presiding officer for electing the chief minister Punjab, adding that the deputy speaker could not conduct a transparent election.

The chief justice questioned what could be done in such circumstances.

Barrister Ali Zafar submitted that the Panel of chairman would preside over the session.

The chief justice questioned what would happen if both parties exert force for their candidate to preside over the session.

Ali Zafar replied that a deadlock would take place in these circumstances.

At this stage, Hamza Shehbaz’s counsel Azam Nazir Tarar suggested that any of four independent assembly members could be appointed as presiding officer.

However, Barrister Ali Zafar did not agree with the suggestion while expressing no trust.

As the court resumed its proceedings after a break of a few hours, the chief justice observed that the parties had failed to reach on a decision but the law would reach on its own decision.

Ali Zafar submitted that the panel of chairman comprised 4 members and if speaker and deputy speaker were not available then the first member of the panel would conduct the proceedings.

Azam Nazir Tarar submitted that no date could be fixed with mutual consultation, therefore, the court should issue appropriate directions in the matter.

Subsequently, the court reserved its verdict on completion of arguments by the parties.

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