PHC seeks governor’s response to PTI petition for his removal
PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Tuesday directed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor and government to respond to a petition seeking his removal for “violating” his oath of office by not declaring the schedule of election to the provincial assembly within 90 days deadline after its dissolution.
The directions were issued by a bench consisting of PHC Chief Justice Musarrat Hilali and Justice Wiqar Ahmad during the hearing into the petition filed by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf lawyer Mohammad Muazzam Butt.
The bench decided that the petition would be taken up again three weeks later.
The petitioner also requested the court to order the provincial caretaker government to vacate its offices insisting that the continuation of such government beyond 90 days is nullity in the law as well as without jurisdiction.
Declares next hearing to be held three weeks later
Muazzam Butt contended that the governor, after failure to perform his constitutional functions, was no longer entitled to exercise the power of fixing the election date beyond the prescribed period of 90 days and that the ECP would not be bound to seek the poll date from him.
He requested the court to issue directives to the interior ministry to consider the “conduct and guilt” of the governor in breach of his constitutional responsibility at the scale of Article 6 of the Constitution, which deals with high treason, for necessary action.
The petitioner contended that the governor breached his constitutional responsibility and violated his oath prescribed in 3rd Schedule of the Constitution read with Article 102.
Provincial advocate general Aamir Javed, who was present in the courtroom, said he had so farnot received the notice in the case and therefore, he should be given time to formally respond to it on behalf of the government.
Similarly, counsel for the governor Tariq Khan Afridi and that of the Election Commission of Pakistan Mohsin Kamran Siddique, who were present in the courtroom in connection with another petition, said their clients were respondents in the petition pertaining to a delay in election to the KP Assembly and they were asked to submit comments in that case and not in the present one.
ADJOURNED: The bench adjourned the hearing into a PTI petition seeking orders for the ECP to hold election to the provincial assembly within 90 days of its dissolution in January this year or with the minimum possible deviation from that deadline.
The hearing was later put off after the governor’s counsel, Tariq Afridi, said he had filed comments on the petition but an objection was raised about it by the relevant office that it should have carried the signature of the governor and not his principal secretary’s.
The lawyer added that comments were filed again carrying the signature of the governor, but that had so far not been placed on the file.
The petition is jointly filed by KP Assembly Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani and PTI secretary general Asad Umar.
The petitioners requested the court to declare illegal and unconstitutional a letter written by the governor to the ECP in March to recommend Oct 8 as the election date and a subsequent notification by the commission to fix that date for polls.
The provincial assembly was dissolved by the governor on Jan 18 on the advice of the then chief minister.
Advocate Shumail Ahmad Butt appeared for the petitioners and said the petition was filed here in light of the April 4 order of the Supreme Court for the petitioners to seek relief on the matter from the appropriate forum.
He said the 90-day election deadline stipulated by the Constitution had expired on April 18.
The lawyer said the ECP and the governor had been delaying the issue on one pretext or another.
He contended that while the Supreme Court in its order had given May 14 date for holding polls to the provincial assembly of Punjab, it had not given any such date for the KP polls.
Mr Butt said the apex court had ordered that the issue of polls in KP should be taken up before the appropriate forum.
Published in Dawn, May 24th, 2023