ISLAMABAD, July 26 (Xinhua) -- The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday night overruled the election of Hamza Shahbaz from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) as the chief minister of Pakistan's eastern Punjab province and declared Pervaiz Elahi as the winner.
A three-judge bench, including Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, rejected Deputy Speaker of Punjab Assembly Dost Mazari's ruling days ago which excluded 10 out of 186 votes received by Elahi against 179 votes by Shahbaz, son of Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif.
The apex court ruled that the decision by the deputy speaker was against the Constitution of the country and declared Elahi as the new elected chief minister of the province. Elahi was a joint candidate of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) of former prime minister Imran Khan and the Pakistan Muslim League (PML).
"The Ruling issued by the deputy speaker, Punjab Assembly is set aside and declared to be void, without lawful authority and of no legal effect," said the Supreme Court.
Elahi received 186 votes, including 176 from the PTI and 10 from the PML, but the deputy speaker excluded 10 votes of the PML after its chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain wrote a letter to his party members to vote for Shahbaz.
The PTI and PML expressed reservations over the deputy speaker's ruling, saying that the party chief cannot order elected members to vote and filed a petition in the Supreme Court. Lawyers of the ruling PML-N and the deputy speaker appeared before the court and defended the ruling but all three judges expressed their dissatisfaction over the arguments.
The ruling coalition asked the chief justice to form a full court bench comprising all judges of the Supreme Court to hear the case but the demand was not accepted.
In its 11-page decision, the court canceled all orders passed by the outgoing chief minister and its cabinet members and also asked them to vacate their offices promptly.
The court also ordered Governor of Punjab Muhammad Baligh-ur-Rehman to administer an oath for Elahi at 11:30 p.m. local time on Tuesday night, adding that if he fails to do so, President of Pakistan Arif Alvi will manage the oath. ■