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LHC; Elahi retains CM’s post amid high drama


Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi. Twitter  LHC; Elahi retains CM’s post amid high drama 1029608 8686108 parvez elahi akhbar
Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi. Twitter 

LAHORE: After a high drama and tense proceedings of the Punjab Assembly, which continued for several hours, Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi remained successful in securing a vote of confidence, amid boycott by the opposition.

He secured 186 votes, the magic number, required to prove simple majority in the House of 371, whereas the opposition boycotted the polling process and left the assembly hall in protest.

Punjab Assembly (PA) Speaker Sibtain Khan announced that the House had expressed confidence in Parvez Elahi and 186 votes had been cast in favour of the vote of confidence resolution. Interestingly, when the polling and counting process was under way, boycott by the opposition benefitted the government. There was no proper check on the polling process, which was completed swiftly.

Momina Waheed of the PTI did not attend the session.

While speaking on the floor of the House, CM Ch Parvez Elahi termed it a victory of the vision of Imran Khan. He said the PMLN had been confined to Raiwind and the party had even ruined the respect of a noble person like the Punjab governor. Parvez Elahi expressed gratitude to Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen as well as an independent MPA Bilal Warraich for supporting him. He also lauded the legal team and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Raja Basharat for their role in the prevailing situation.

Parvez Elahi said that N-league had received a surprise and its ‘baraat’ [wedding procession] had returned empty handed. He said Imran Khan was a genuine leader of the nation, and expressed thanks to the PTI and the PMLQ for supporting him.

While rejecting the voting process, PMLN leadership announced taking the matter to the courts. Talking to the media, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan said that the PTI, PMLQ government had bulldozed the rules and the constitution. He termed the session unconstitutional and unacceptable. He said the absence of any polling staff during the voting and counting process clearly showed the mala fide on the part of the government.

PMLN leaders — Rana Sanaullah, Atta Tarar and Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan — termed the voting process an open rigging, says the PMLN preserved the right to move the courts of law against the assembly session as well as the voting process. Speaking to reporters after opposition’s boycott of the session, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said it is fit situation for imposing Governor’s Rule in the province. He said that the proceedings were extended for 7 to 8 hours while the second agenda was issued after 12 o clock in the night. He said that the action was against the rules and constitution.

He said the speaker had said after consulting his lawyers that the Governor’s order was unconstitutional and had rejected conducting the vote of confidence. He said that a new agenda was issued in which it was told about the vote of confidence. Rana Sanaullah said that Pervez Elahi’s side had opted for a different point of view in the court that it changed in the assembly, and started a bogus process of voting without naming any polling agents. He said that PML-N and PPP were falsely blamed for horse trading. He said that matter was being heard in the court. He said that they the proceedings was initiated fraudulently and they will not accept that. He said that despite efforts of 10-12 hours they could not complete their numbers and now the process of fraudulent counting will be started. Malik Ahmad Khan said rules had been bulldozed regarding the vote. He said that this was the worst incident in Punjab Assembly’s history. Malik Ahmad said that poling agents were not appointed as per requirement.

Earlier, the Punjab Assembly witnessed complete disorder, commotion since the beginning, and its MPAs gathered in front of the speaker’s dais and chanted slogans against the government. Some members came to blows and others threw chairs at each other. The opposition tore the copies of agenda and one of its MPAs also threatened the assembly staff not to follow directions of the speaker. PTI members — Sadia Sohail Rana, Seemabia Tahir and Sania Kamran — also raised slogans against the opposition. During the day proceedings, Speaker Sibtain Khan said the opposition members should sit in their seats; otherwise, he would initiate action against them according to the law.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Raja Basharat also tried to convince the opposition and requested them to sit in their seats. Speaker Sibtain Khan said let the high court decide whether the government had to take a vote of confidence or not. If they would not take a vote of confidence, they would not remain in the government.

MPA Usman Mahmood said if the opposition was in the majority and the government was in the minority, the members had no interest in the question, answer session in the house. He said the government should take a vote of confidence first, and then the process would move forward.

Throughout the day, noted political figures from both the PTI and the PMLN including Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Rana Sanaullah Khan remained present inside the PA building and attended the parliamentary meetings of their respective parties. The PA session was adjourned at 12:00 midnight as the next date had started, and after a gap of few minutes, new session was started for the vote of confidence process, in which the Punjab CM was able to win trust of 186 Punjab Assembly members.

Meanwhile, talking to media reporters after the session, PTI leader Shah Mehmood Qureshi congratulated Imran Khanm and said their lawyers contested the case successfuly. He said it’s time to close ranks for future as the PDM government had failed. He alleged people came from Karachi to stage an environment the way they had done in Islamabad.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Lahore High Court (LHC) Wednesday extended chief ministership of Parvez Elahi for another day, seeking more arguments with a direction that the CM would not dissolve the assembly as per undertaking submitted by him. The LHC larger bench sought further arguments on January 12 (today) on Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi’s plea, challenging Governor Balighur Rehman’s two orders including his and his cabinet’s de-notification, and taking of a vote of confidence. A five-member full bench of the high court, led by Justice Abid Aziz Sheikh, heard the case. As the hearing commenced on Wednesday, the bench asked Parvez Elahi’s counsel and the federation whether they had reached any consensus over the matter of time-frame about vote of confidence. The court also suggested that if both parties agree, it could fix the date for vote of confidence.

Justice Hafeez, a member of the bench, observed that the chief minister should have the confidence of the majority of lawmakers round-the-clock.

“A decision on chief minister has to be made through a floor test,” added Justice Sheikh. Ali Zafar, counsel for CM Parvez Elahi, responded that his client became the chief minister by taking votes in the assembly. Justice Hafeez remarked that the chief minister should always have the support of 186 members all the time. He observed that “Under the constitution, the governor and speaker are unbiased. But here, the speaker and governor are acting as spokespersons for political parties,” he remarked.

The counsel for the governor argued that the CM Punjab failed to get vote of confidence despite being given sufficient time. He said that the matter would only reach a conclusion when the CM would take the vote of confidence.

The governor’s counsel alleged that that clearly showed their ill intention and implored the court to fix a date for the vote of confidence. Attorney General for Pakistan Mansoor Awan, while giving his opinion in the court, argued that the governor had the power to ask the CM to take a vote of confidence. He added that the matter had also gone beyond the debate over the need for a reasonable time to hold voting. He argued that it was mandatory for the CM to take a vote of confidence on the governor’s order. He asked what would happen to the assembly dissolution if governor’s direction were not implemented. Barrister Ali Zafar argued on the matter of fixing the date that they did not agree owing to some reasons, which establish the illegality of the Punjab governor’s directives.

To which, Justice Abid Aziz remarked while addressing Zafar that if he did not see that prevailing political circumstances were enough for taking a vote of confidence. He asked Ali Zafar if he was sticking to his arguments that the present circumstances were not enough for a vote of confidence.

To which Zafar replied, “We have not to see only the circumstances but we have to see what actually the Constitution says.”

The bench replied that if the parties did not reach a conclusion, then it would hear the matter on merit.

After which, Barrister Ali Zafar started his arguments, saying that they had no objection if the case was decided on merit. He argued that the matter of taking vote of confidence was between Speaker Punjab Assembly Muhammad Sibtain Khan and the Governor Punjab, but what fault was of his client who had been de-notified by the governor, Zafar questioned.

He argued that the governor directed CM Elahi to obtain vote of confidence, but the Punjab Assembly speaker did not agree with the reasons relying upon the governor directed for a vote of confidence. The speaker also did not agree with the short time period given by the governor for the said purpose, Zafar argued.

Ali Zafar argued that neither the governor could summon assembly session when the assembly session was already in progress nor has the speaker’s ruling been challenged at any forum by the governor’s side. So under such circumstances how could CM Elahi be de-notified, assuming he failed in getting vote of confidence, Zafar established his argument. Parvez’s counsel said that there is not any sort of effort on CM Elahi’s part which could establish that he deliberately restrained himself from taking vote of confidence.

When there is a scuffle between A and B, so how the C could be punished, Zafar asked the court. To which bench’s head Justice Abid Aziz remarked that constitutionally the governor could direct CM requiring him to obtain vote of confidence. If governor exercises his power so under this clause, the floor of the House is to be tested. Furthermore, on Zafar’s contention over the speaker’s prerogative to determine a date of the vote, the court observed that the governor could determine a date of the vote of confidence during an ongoing session. “If this cannot happen, then the chief minister will say that he won’t be taking a vote of confidence as a session is ongoing,” observed Justice Sheikh. He added that the speaker could also give a separate date. On this Zafar elaborated his argument that there are two ways to remove the CM. One is relating to a resolution if submitted with 20 per cent strength of the lawmakers and the second one is the governor directs the CM to take the vote of confidence. Zafar further explained that the CM could dissolve the assembly if governor directs him to get vote of confidence. However, the CM could not dissolve assembly after process starts on a resolution submitted by 20 per cent lawmakers against the CM, claiming he has lost trust of the majority, Zafar argued further saying that the Constitution requires cogent reasons if the CM is asked for vote of confidence. To which the bench questioned Zafar that what are the parameters which he believed were the cogent reasons for directing the CM to obtain vote of confidence.

To which Zafar replied that the Constitution requires that if the CM loses majority, he will have to obtain vote of confidence. For the sake of argument, if PTI’s 91 and the PML-Q’s 6 lawmakers approach the governor and inform him that they have no confidence in the CM, it will mean the CM had lost majority of the lawmakers’ confidence, then he would have to obtain vote of confidence. However, it could not be considered a cogent reason if the governor dreams one day that the CM had lost majority and waking up the next morning and directs the CM to take vote of confidence, Zafar argued.

The counsel said that the PMLN lawmakers submitted the no-trust motion in the Punjab Assembly on the same day when the governor directed the CM for getting a vote of confidence. Zafar claimed that the purpose of PMLN’s withdrawal of no-trust motion was that it did not have required numbers in its camp. On the other hand, the PTI has to show its strength in vote of confidence, directed by the governor. It is real example of mockery of Constitution. The PMLN exercised this when the matter was still pending in the court, Zafar added.

To which, the bench asked Barrister Zafar to explain his point that the governor did not elaborate cogent reasons requiring the CM to obtain vote of confidence. Zafar answered that reasons given by the governor were irrelevant and immature. He told the court that his client had no issues with taking a vote of confidence, but it was a matter of “principle”.

The court adjourned the hearing for Thursday (today), directing Barrister Zafar to come up with more arguments.



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