Rana Sanaullah, the minister of the interior, said on Monday that the government coalition has decided to boycott court sessions if their demand for the formation of a full court bench in the issue involving the recent election for the chief minister of the province of Punjab is not met.
Outside the Supreme Court building, he and Minister of Law and Justice Azam Nazir Tarar addressed reporters:
“All the political parties have requested the honourable Supreme Court to constitute a full court bench on the issue of the election of the Punjab chief minister… it will increase the respect of the court.” The minister claimed that 25 members of Imran Khan’s PTI were removed from office by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for disobeying the leader.
Only by building a larger bench, he said, could the current situation’s dispute be resolved.
In regards to the presidential reference case concerning the interpretation of Article 63 of the Constitution, Sanaullah stated that all political parties and the entire nation have full confidence in the full court and that the Supreme Court Bar Association has filed a review petition for becoming a party to the case.
We ask that the Supreme Court consider hearing the same petitions before a full bench.
For his part, Azam Nazir Tarar said that the presidents of the Supreme Court Bar Association were also present at today’s sessions and echoed his sentiments that the formation of a full court bench will boost public regard for the highest court.
According to Tarar, a plea was submitted after former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was jailed, but the full court panel declared it was the right of the party chief in 2015.
According to him, only the leader of a political party can define the party’s policy in light of the Supreme Court’s past rulings.
For Tarar, the matter would be settled once and for all once a full SC bench was established.
The minister claimed that it had been established that the head of a political party has significant sway over the party’s internal affairs, including the distribution of party tickets, the allocation of votes in the legislature, and the suspension of party membership.
He emphasized that they would only accept the court’s decision if it was made by the entire bench.
The court heard a petition earlier in the day from Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervez Elahi challenging Hamza Shehbaz’s reelection as chief minister of Punjab, and then reserved its decision on the creation of a full bench. Elahi was a potential candidate for the position of chief minister.
A total of 186 people voted for Elahi, while Hamza Shehbaz of the PML-N received 179 votes. However, ten PML-Q legislators’ votes were disregarded by Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari after receiving a letter from party president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain stating that the PML-Q does not support Elahi.
Jointly earlier in the day, leaders of the ruling coalition, including PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, demanded a full bench to preside over Elahi’s petition challenging the election of the Punjab chief minister.
The coalition parties’ stance against what Maryam Nawaz has called “bench-fixing” stiffened, with members voicing serious concerns about the judges assigned to hear the pivotal constitutional matter.
According to Maryam, “our judicial system is such that people know what bench will be created and the decision will be rendered” when a petition is filed