Pakistan's Supreme Court on Saturday allowed Hamza Shehbaz to remain as the 'trustee' Punjab province chief minister till hearing resumes on Monday, but barred him from using his powers for 'political gains' during this period.
Hamza, the son of Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, on Saturday took oath as the chief minister of the Punjab province, a day after he was re-elected to the post by just three votes amidst high drama that sparked protests in the country and prompted the rival candidate Chaudhry Parvez Elahi to move the apex court.
A three-member bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhter took up the case on Saturday.
The court after hearing arguments ruled that 'Hamza will continue to work as a trustee chief minister till Monday', adding that he should work as per the Constitution and law during the time period, and not use his powers for political gains.
Hamza, 47, was declared the winner in the election though his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party did not have a majority in the Assembly after key by-elections held on July 17.
He managed to retain the post of Punjab chief minister by the barest of margins after Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari rejected 10 votes of Elahi's party Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q), an ally of ousted prime minister Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), citing Article 63-A of the Constitution.
During the hearing, Justice Bandial remarked that prima facie, the deputy speaker's ruling was against the apex court's verdict in the Article 63-A reference.
In the 368-member Punjab assembly, Hamza's PML-N received 179 votes, while Elahi's party garnered 176 votes.
Ten votes of Elahi's PML-Q were not counted on the pretext that they had violated the orders of their party chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain.
The orders came under sharp criticism from PML-N, with its vice-president Maryam Nawaz saying the party would no longer 'bow its head' in front of 'one-sided' decisions, alleging that the 'house of justice came under the pressure of bullying and threats'.
'It repeatedly makes specific decisions through the same bench, negates its own decisions, [and] puts all the weight in the same scale,' she tweeted, adding that political chaos and instability would result with this court decision.
Khan's party, PTI, is hoping the apex court would instruct Deputy Speaker Mazari to include the 10 votes which he had rejected citing Article 63-A of the Constitution, which would pave the way for Elahi's appointment as the Punjab province chief minister.