Ahead of the hearing about the recent Punjab Chief Minister elections today, the parties heading the coalition government held a joint press conference questioning the Supreme Court’s latest decisions. Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz said that ‘bench-fixing’ is a serious crime.
Following the recent election of the Punjab CM on July 22, the province has once again fallen victim to another constitutional crisis, with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) challenging Hamza Shehbaz’s re-election as CM.
The opposition alliance of the PTI and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) have moved the Supreme Court over the Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Assembly’s interpretation of Article 63-A, on the basis of which he discarded the 10 PML-Q votes.
The government alliance has since then been pushing for a full court hearing, questioning why it was the same judges who heard petitions by the PTI against PML-N and the government.
“One or two judges, who have always been anti-PML-N and anti-government, they are repeatedly included in the bench,” Maryam Nawaz said, adding that “bench-fixing is a crime just like match-fixing”.
Maryam added that the PML-N was not being shown judicial justice, and remarked that since getting elected as CM both times, Hamza Shehbaz had just been going from ‘Parliament to court’, remarking, “What sort of justice is this?”
Foreign Minister and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-Chair Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari remarked that three people cannot be allowed to make decisions impacting the whole country, and stressed that the government alliance only sought a full court hearing.
The three people being referred to are Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar, who make up the three-member bench that is hearing the petition on the legality of the Punjab deputy speaker’s ruling on July 22.
It should be noted that they are also three of the five judges who deemed former National Assembly speaker Qasim Suri’s decision to dismiss the vote of no-confidence against PTI chief Imran Khan in April was unconstitutional, resulting in Khan’s ouster.
They were also the judges who gave the ruling disallowing the votes of the defecting PTI lawmakers from being counted in the election for the Punjab CM.