The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday accepted the PTI’s challenges against the election of Hamza Shabaz as chief minister, dealing a serious blow to the PML-N government in Punjab.
The ruling was handed down today by a bigger LHC bench, which included Justices Shahid Jamil, Shehram Sarwar, Sajid Mehmood Sethi, and Tariq Saleem Sheikh and was presided over by Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan.
With his colleagues judges, Justice Sajid Mehmood Sethi expressed disagreement.
The election of Hamza Shahbaz was contested by the PTI and PML-Q on April 16 during a disorderly session.
As the PTI leaders have stated that a fresh CM election will be held, the LHC order is expected to spark a new crisis in the nation’s largest province.
The same candidates, Hamza Shahbaz and Pervez Elahi, will reportedly run for the seat once more. The new CM needs to receive 186 votes, or 50% of the House’s total strength, in order to win the confidence vote.
The deputy speaker will preside over the proceedings for the CM election if the court reinstates the Punjab Assembly to the circumstances of April 16. A panel of chairmen will preside over the proceedings if a motion of no confidence is made against him.
In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling, the Pakistani Election Commission has removed 25 PTI defectors. On July 17, there will be by-elections for the 20 open seats, and the campaign is already well under way.
Two minority and three female members on the PTI’s priority list for reserved seats have not yet received notification from the provincial election commission.
Following the fulfilment of the highest court’s directive for notification of members on reserved seats, the opposition coalition will gain five more seats. 351 members will cast ballots in the election for the CM’s position, with the 20 remaining members joining the assembly following the by-elections.
177 MPAs currently support the government alliance, including 160 from the PML-N (160), four independents, one Rah-e-Haq Party, and seven from the PPP. In contrast, the PTI now has 158 MPAs in the Punjab Assembly after 25 of them were removed from office.
However, when the reserved members are informed, the party’s strength will increase to 163. Additionally, 10 MPAs from the PML-Q support it. 173 lawmakers support the opposition alliance in total. Given that there is just a four-vote difference between the ruling coalition and the opposition alliance in this case, Chaudhry Nisar’s vote will be very important.
The ruling alliance will need to gain nine seats in the by-elections if the position goes to Hamza Shehbaz, who has a razor-thin lead of four votes, in order to successfully receive the vote of confidence. The outcome of the by-elections will so determine how both alliances will proceed moving forward.