Federal Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar has demanded the Supreme Court of Pakistan to constitute a larger bench or full court to hear the case of Punjab chief minister election, as well as the review petition of the Supreme Court Bar Association about Article 63-A interpretation.
Addressing a joint press conference with Punjab Home Minister Attaullah Tarar here on Sunday, he said that political circumstances had reached such a situation that several constitutional issues needed to be resolved.
He said that the president of Pakistan had sent a reference to the Supreme Court for interpretation of Article 63-A before voting on no-confidence resolution against the then prime minister Imran Khan, and it was appealed that votes cast against the directions of the party head should not be counted.
The SC did not give stay order and the proceedings of no-confidence were completed, he added.
The law minister said that later, during election of the Punjab chief minister, the split 3-2 judgment was given that the votes cast against the directions of the party leader would not be counted. Therefore, 25 votes cast in favour of Hamza Shahbaz were not counted.
On Friday, in the run-off election for the Punjab chief minister slot, the votes of 10 members of the PML-Q, who had cast their votes against the directions of the party head, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, were not counted, in the light of the apex court verdict.
He said that the Punjab Assembly deputy speaker announced the victory of Hamza Shahbaz as the chief minister, in the light of the SC interpretation of Article 63-A. However, the other candidate, Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, moved the SC and appealed for counting those votes, he explained.
He said that the Supreme Court Bar and the civil society had demanded that hearing of these cases should be held altogether by the full court. Tarar said that prominent lawyers including Latif Afridi, Yasin Azad, Fazal Haq Abbas, Qalb-e-Hussain and Ahsan Bhoon had also said that it was a serious and sensitive issue which was taken up by 8-member and 5-member benches earlier; therefore it should in heard by the full court now.
The federal law minister said that it was an issue related to the elected chief minister of 120 million people of Punjab, and the chief justice should assign its hearing to a full bench. He said that a baseless perception was being developed against the PML-N through a private channel that the PML-N was running any campaign against the courts.
He made it clear that the PML-N respected the institutions including the judiciary, and rejected the allegations about any campaign. He said that people knew well which party was an expert in trending or launching campaigns against the national and constitutional institutions.
Punjab Home Minister Attaullah Tarar said that it was not the norm of the PML-N to run any campaign against institutions; however, he added, PTI’s Fawad Chaudhry and Hammad Azhar were experts in launching trends against the institutions including courts, forces and the Election Commission. “We know, on whose directions Fawad is running trends and who is funding them,” Atta claimed.
He said that Fawad was the person who never spoke the truth. He said that it was a tradition that sensitive constitutional cases were heard by the full court to end confusion once and for all. He said that the letter of PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain was not yet presented before the court, which was directly written to his members.
He said that previously, votes of 25 MPAs were not counted by declaring them against the directions of the party head, whereas the direction had been issued by Asad Umar, PTI’s secretary general, on behalf of his party chairman.
“In the current situation, the letter was written directly by the party head, but questions were raised about it,” he added.
To a question, the federal law minister clarified that today’s (Sunday) press conference was being organized to clear the position of the PML-N and to curb rumors against the party.
To another question, he said that the apex court did not bar Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shahbaz from the formation of his cabinet, as it was a constitutional obligation to run the government. Responding to a question about the de-seating of the PML-Q members, he said it was their internal matter and Ch Shujaat Hussain could make decisions in that regard.