Arif Alvi instructed Punjab Governor to continue to hold office

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ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi on Monday instructed Punjab Governor Umar Sarfaraz Cheema to continue to hold office, Geo News reported on Monday.

According to a President’s House statement, the President said the Punjab governor would continue to serve till a decision on a summary for his removal was taken.

On the other hand, the principal secretary to the governor has informed the latter that he cannot refuse to administer the oath to an elected chief minister under any circumstances, after he decided to delay Hamza Shehbaz’s swearing-in ceremony a day earlier, reported Geo News.

The principal secretary said that the move would be a constitutional violation and warned Punjab Governor Cheema against declining the oath to the CM-elect. Hamza, who was elected with 197 votes, beating PTI-PMLQ candidate Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, was supposed to be sworn in as the Punjab CM on Sunday until PTI-backed Governor Cheema abruptly postponed the oath-taking, citing the Punjab Assembly secretary’s report, the Lahore High Court instructions and the “facts presented to him.”

However, a letter issued by the principal secretary stated that the governor has no power vested under the Constitution or any law that authorises him to disregard the election under any circumstances. “The Punjab Assembly secretary had in all probability rendered himself liable to contempt proceedings for a completely illegal report that smacks of mala fide,” reads the letter.

The secretary told the governor that the assembly secretary’s report had been found one-sided, biased and politically motivated. “I have no power under any provision of the Constitution, the law or the Rules of the Punjab Assembly 1997 to call into question the declaration of the result by the deputy speaker, who is duly authorised by the Lahore High Court to conduct the election for the office of chief minister,” he added. The PA secretary had already been suspended by the deputy speaker and his entry into the House was banned, the letter added.

On Sunday, Punjab Governor Omar Sarfraz Cheema had postponed the oath-taking of CM-elect Hamza Shehbaz as he ruled his election was controversial due to the ruckus that took place in the assembly a day earlier. Cheema, in a press conference, had condemned the violence that took place in the Punjab Assembly on Saturday and said that such incidents set a very wrong precedent. “I am a political worker and have fought elections. This a very wrong precedent being set,” the governor had said.

The Punjab governor had accused the CM-elect of using “state power” on the polling day against his rival. “I believe if Hamza Shehbaz had enough votes, then he should not have made the election controversial like this,” said Cheema.

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