The Lahore High Court (LHC) Thursday ordered that the votes polled in the election of Punjab chief minister be recounted excluding the votes of 25 PTI dissidents. The court announced the verdict on the pleas challenging Hamza Shehbaz’s election to the CM slot. A five-member larger bench of the LHC, headed by Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan, and comprising Justice Shahid Jamil, Justice Shehram Sarwar, Justice Sajid Mehmood Sethi and Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh, announced the verdict while accepting the pleas. In a split decision, Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan, Justice Shahid Jamil, and Justice Shehram Sarwar accepted the pleas, while Justice Sethi raised some objections. Meanwhile, the court disposed of PML-Q’s pleas. As per the verdict, the votes will be recounted and the candidate securing majority of votes will be declared chief minister. Article 130(4) of the Constitution governs the election of chief ministers, under which there is an obligation of a majority of 186 votes. Hamza will no longer be the chief minister if he fails to retain the required majority after the exclusion of 25 votes, while the second round of polls will be held as per Article 130(4) in case no one gets the majority after a recount. “We could, possibly direct fresh election after declaring the election as unlawful but it would nullify the direction by the apex court to the state functionaries for the conduct of election in accordance with the Constitution and the decision by learned Division Bench of this Court, appointing Deputy Speaker as presiding officer and directing for the conduct of the election on 16th April 2022,” the verdict stated, says a news report. It further said that the court cannot quash the notification issued by the presiding officer as well. The verdict obliged the Punjab governor to ensure that the PA session, summoned by him at 4pm on July 1, was held without fail, and not adjourn it without holding the poll. In addition, the governor must ensure administering oath to the new CM on July 2 by 11am. PTI had filed five separate pleas challenging the conduct of the Punjab Assembly on April 16, alongside Hamza’s election. For several weeks, the issue of the Punjab CM election has been a source of a constitutional crisis. There was a commotion in the Punjab Assembly on the day of the CM’s election and the meeting had to be held under the protection of the Deputy Speaker Police. Hamza Shahbaz was elected CM on April 16 with 197 votes, while PTI and PML-Q candidate Pervez Elahi received no votes. The PTI had declared a boycott of the CM’s election. Following Hamza Shehbaz’s election as CM on April 16, the governor of Punjab refused to administer the oath of office to him and the petition for the CM’s oath had been filed with the LHC. The LHC first requested that the Punjab governor, then the president, to administer the oath to the CM after which PTI filed a petition with the LHC. A two-member LHC bench had referred the case to the chief justice for the formation of a larger bench. The petitions of the PTI were heard by a five-member bench of the LHC, where the petitioners argued that the election of the Punjab CM was not fair.