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LAHORE: Lahore High Court Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti in his short order on Wednesday restored the power of the Deputy Speaker and directed him to proceed to elect the Chief Minister Punjab on April 16 already fixed for this purpose.

The Chief Justice had reserved his verdict on petitions of Leader of Opposition in Punjab Assembly Hamza Shehbaz, Deputy Speaker and PML-Q.

The court declared the impugned order whereby the powers of the Deputy Speaker were withdrawn, by virtue of which Deputy Speaker in absence of the Speaker attained the status of Speaker, being contrary to Article 53(3) of the Constitution and set it aside.

The court directed the Deputy Speaker and all other persons including the provincial government to act impartially, justly and fairly to ensure the supremacy of the Constitution. The court, however, denied the prayer of petitioner Hamza Shehbaz to shorten the date of assembly session, for election of the Chief Minister Punjab.

The court also directed the Secretary Provincial Assembly to ensure completion of renovation work of the Provincial Assembly before 11:00 pm of April 15 and should be made available for its use for the members of the provincial assembly on April 16.

The court also directed the Secretary and other employees of the Assembly to make all efforts to provide assistance which they otherwise are under legal obligation in this regard.

During the course of arguments, Barrister Ali Zafar, counsel of Speaker Ch Pervez Elahi, argued that the court had no jurisdiction to set a date for the election of the chief minister. Opposing the petitions, he said the petitioners challenged the executive powers of the provincial assembly. Ali Zafar said the parliament and the judiciary could not interfere in the constitutional jurisdiction of each other.

He argued that the courts could not dictate the assemblies on summoning the sessions. He said instructing the assembly to hold its session would be like the assembly was asking the court about disposal of cases pending before it.

He said the non-implementation of the assembly rules as alleged by the petitioner was an internal matter of the assembly.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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