Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti Wednesday directed the Punjab Governor Omar Sarfaraz Cheema to administer the oath to CM-elect Hamza Shahbaz himself or appoint a nominee for the constitutional duty by Thursday (today). The directive comes as the LHC announced the verdict on chief minister-elect Hamza Shehbaz’s petition against delay in his oath-taking, which the court ruled as “unconstitutional”. Hamza was elected as chief minister on April 16. However, he hasn’t sworn in yet as his oath-taking was deferred twice despite the LHC’s directives for not delaying the matter any further. The LHC reserved the verdict on Hamza’s plea on Tuesday, which is the second time PML-N has reached out to the high court for the resolution of the matter. The short order issued by CJ Bhatti stated: “It is, therefore, concluded that all the enabling provisions/Articles of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973, suggest the prompt formation of governments, i.e. provincial and federal. For that matter, expeditious administration of oath either by president or by governor or their nominee, as the case may be, is mandatory; as all expected reasons/options causing delay are excluded/procured by suggesting/providing an alternate mechanism and I do not find any vacuum or space in the Constitution for causing any delay in the administration of oath required under Constitution.” The verdict added that the province of Punjab is being operated without a functional government, for the last 25-days, since the acceptance of the resignation of the then Chief Minister Usman Buzdar while on the other hand, the oath of the newly elected chief minister, Muhammad Hamza Shahbaz Sharif is being delayed on one pretext or the other, which is not only against democratic norms but also against the scheme of the Constitution. “That being the case, it is suggested/advised/proposed that Governor shall ensure the completion of the process of administration of the oath of Chief Minister Punjab, either himself or through his nominee, in terms of Article 255 of the Constitution, on or before 28.04.2022,” it added. In the ruling, CJ Bhatti maintained that President Arif Alvi, who is also under constitutional obligation to facilitate the expeditious administration of the oath of prime minister or chief minister in any province, is suggested to play his role mandated by the Constitution/law, ensuring a functional provincial government in Punjab. “The office of this court is directed to transmit this order through fax immediately to the offices of the governor and president for its placement before them, today.” Following the verdict, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said: “Worst among [Imran Khan’s] damaging legacy is blatant defiance [and] undermining of constitutional authority.” “Unfortunate that from president to [deputy]/speaker NA to governor [Punjab], those holding high offices have chosen blind loyalty to their leader [at the] expense of their constitutional responsibilities,” he wrote on Twitter. Speaking to journalists after the verdict was announced, PML-N senior leader Atta Tarar reiterated that the governor had to administer the oath by Thursday, urging them to abide by the Constitution. “The governor was interpreting the Constitution on his own, which was declared incorrect by the Constitution,” he said, adding that both the governor and President Arif Alvi violated the Constitution as they did not implement the order of the high court.