LHC verdict sends Punjab into political predicament.

ISLAMABAD -- A five-judge Lahore High Court (LHC) bench on Thursday ordered a recount of votes cast in the April 16 election for the Punjab chief minister after excluding 25 votes of defecting MPAs of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), and in case a candidate fails to secure a majority, go for a run-off poll where a contender requires a majority vote of the members present in the house.

Meanwhile, one of the petitioners in the case, the PTI, has decided to move the Supreme Court on Friday morning (today) against the verdict for not allowing it enough time to gather its members.

'The presiding officer (deputy speaker) of the election held on April 16, 2022 is, therefore, directed to recount votes after excluding 25 votes of the defecting members,' stated the short order of the majority decision handed down by Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan, Justice Shahid Jamil Khan, Justice Shehram Sarwar Chaudhry, Justice Sajid Mahmood Sethi and Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh. Justice Sethi concurred with the short order, however, recorded separate reasons in a dissenting note.

It said the session, for the purpose of a recount, would be held on July 1 (today) at 4pm.

The order explained if a candidate failed to secure the majority vote (of the total membership of the house) required under Article 130(4) of the Constitution, the presiding officer (the deputy speaker, in this case) shall proceed for a second and further poll unless a candidate secured majority votes (of the members present).

The decision came on appeals filed by the PTI, PML-Q, Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Parvez Elahi and others against different single bench decisions regarding the election and oath-taking of Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz.

The bench maintained the session would not be prorogued until the election process is completed and the presiding officer intimated the result to the governor. 'The governor shall perform his duty, under Article 130(5), of administering oath... at any time before 11am the very next day.'

The bench further observed that they could not ignore the disorder in various sessions of the provincial assembly, therefore directed that any attempt of disorder from any quarter would be taken as contempt of court and proceeded against accordingly on formal information by any individual.

In the opening paragraphs of its short order, the bench ruled that the Supreme Court opinion on the presidential reference regarding votes of defectors was applicable to the Punjab chief...

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