The Lahore High Court has dismissed a petition seeking the restoration of the Punjab Assembly, with the petitioner being fined Rs100,000 for ‘overburdening’ the court. The petition was filed by citizen Sharafat Ali who claimed that the dissolution of the provincial assembly was illegal and unconstitutional and that it was done with malafide intent by then-Chief Minister Punjab Chaudhry Pervez Elahi. The plea further stated that written reasons must be given when giving advice as a public functionary, but Elahi’s advice did not give any reasons for the dissolution of the assembly.
Ali cited the Supreme Court case titled “Nawaz Sharif vs Federation of Pakistan,” in which it was held that the opinion formed by the president must be based on concrete grounds and must be objective. The grounds on which the opinion is formed were also held to be open to examination by the court, bringing it under the purview of judicial review. The petitioner argued that the advice in the instant case was neither reasoned nor fulfilled the requirement of the law laid down by the Supreme Court.
The petitioner further claimed that there was no evidence on record or mention in the advice that any material was placed before the chief minister before he formed the impugned advice. There was also no evidence that his mind was applied independently before the advice was sent. The advice was made on the direction of a former prime minister and is based on malafide, the petition stated.
However, during the proceedings, Justice Shahid Karim expressed his displeasure over the application, and the petition was dismissed as non-maintainable. The petitioner was also fined Rs100,000 for overburdening the court.
This decision by the Lahore High Court means that the Punjab Assembly will not be restored as sought by the petitioner. The case highlights the importance of giving reasons when giving advice as a public functionary and the need for opinions formed by high-ranking officials to be objective and based on concrete grounds.