Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) moved the Supreme Court (SC) to challenge Lahore High Court’s verdict to recount the votes cast in the Punjab Chief Minister (CM) elections excluding the votes that were cast by 25 dissident PTI lawmakers.

The SC accepted PTI’s plea for an immediate hearing earlier in the day and formed a three-member bench. The hearing is currently underway by the bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial.

During the hearing, PTI’s lawyer Babar Awan requested to wait for seven days for the election process. To this, the court questioned, “Do you want Punjab to remain without a Chief Minister for seven days?”

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Moreover, the apex court has directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to send notice to five reserved seats. As in the petition, PTI pointed out that lawmakers on five reserved seats in the Punjab Assembly had still not been notified in accordance with the LHC’s earlier directives.

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PTI leader and former federal minister Fawad Chaudhry announced the development on his Twitter handle. He said, “An appeal has been filed in the SC against the decision of the LHC. It is hoped that the SC will hold a hearing today in view of this crisis and the session of the Punjab Assembly will be adjourned.”

The petitioners urged the court to remove Hamza as CM and requested to issue directives for holding a “free and fair” election for the post of the province’s chief executive. Moreover, they requested the court to suspend the election process till the pendency of their petition.

In the petition, the party also said that some of their Members of Provincial Assembly (MPAs) are currently not in Pakistan as they have gone to Saudi Arabia to perform Hajj. The party also argued that many PTI and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) members are busy with political campaign in their constituencies for the upcoming by-elections in Punjab.

The magic number required to show the majority is 186. According to the verdict of the LHC, after recounting the votes today (Friday), the tally of the incumbent CM Hamza Shehbaz will come down to 172 votes after the exclusion of 25 votes of PTI dissident MPAs. The session will take place today at 4pm as per the LHC order.

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On Thursday, LHC accepted the appeals of PTI filed against the election of CM Hamza and ordered a recount of votes with the exclusion of the 25 defecting party members who voted for him.

A five-member larger bench of the LHC headed by Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan announced the verdict.

After the verdict, Former Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan said that the party would be going to the apex court tomorrow (Friday) and challenge the verdict.

Verdict:

As per the verdict, the votes will be recounted and the candidate securing a majority of votes will be declared the chief minister of Punjab.

Article 130(4) of the Constitution of Pakistan governs the election of chief ministers, under which there is an obligation of a majority of 186 votes.

Hamza will no longer be the chief minister if he doesn’t retain the required majority after the exclusion of 25 votes, while the second round of polls will be held as per Article 130(4) in case no one gets the majority after a recount.

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Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Attaullah Tarar said that the PML-N is happy and content because it has the required numbers. He said that the PML-N has 177 votes, which means a majority of nine votes even if the dissidents’ votes are not counted.

“The court neither nullified the previous elections nor ordered fresh elections,” Tarar said.

The politician said that PTI is unable to understand what the verdict states “in English”.

Meanwhile, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry tweeted, “The decision of the High Court has further aggravated the political crisis in Punjab. There are many flaws in this decision.”

Hamza Shehbaz was elected CM Punjab on April 16 with 197 votes, while PTI and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) candidate Pervaiz Elahi received no votes.