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ISLAMABAD/KARACHI/LAHORE: The Election Tribunal Punjab Tuesday dismissed Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) leader Pervaiz Rashid’s appeal against the rejection of his nomination papers for Senate elections by the Returning Officer as the outgoing senator now remains ineligible to contest elections unless allowed by the Supreme Court.

During the final day of the two-day hearing of appeals against acceptance/rejection of nomination papers, ET Punjab comprising Justice Shahid Waheed from Lahore High Court (LHC) heard in Lahore Rashid’s appeal against the rejection of his nomination papers by RO/Provincial Election Commissioner Punjab Ghulam Israr Khan.

During the hearing, Rashid’s counsel Advocate Khalid Ishaq said the election laws allowed the belated payment of any utility bill which a Senate candidate owes but he he/she came to know about the outstanding dues only later. He said Rashid was ready to pay outstanding dues to Punjab House, saying Punjab House never intimated the PML-N senator about the outstanding dues. “We are ready to pay—through cheque or cash— whatever they (Punjab House) say. The Comptroller of Punjab House is here. We can arrange cash in just an hour and we have brought the cheque along with us. If he (Rashid) is deprived of contesting Senate elections, and, it is revealed later that all this outstanding dues thing — was actually a plan of government to stop Pervaiz Rashid from contesting Senate polls— then who would be responsible,” he said. The counsel requested that his client be allowed to contest Senate polls and if anything was found against him, he could be de-seated anytime—under the relevant electoral laws, he said.

Counsel for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Member Provincial Assembly (MPA) from Punjab Zainab Umair who challenged Rashid’s nomination to contest Senate polls argued that Rashid brought a crossed cheque with him which, the counsel said, showed ‘malice’ on his part. “If he (Rashid) is ready to pay cash than why has he brought a crossed cheque? The crossed cheque would need a couple of days to get cleared. What if Rashid nomination is approved now and crossed cheque is dishonoured later? All he wants is to get his nomination papers approved right now. This shows malice on his part,” the counsel said.

After hearing both the sides, the ET rejected Rashid’s nomination. Now, the outgoing PML-N senator is left with the only option to move Supreme Court. He can contest Senate elections only if allowed by the Apex Court and that too before the Senate polls.

Last week, the RO rejected Rashid’s nomination papers on the grounds that he did not pay outstanding dues of Rs 9.5 million to Punjab House. Rashid insisted that he had cleared all the pending dues of Punjab House. However, the outgoing senator failed to provide any documentary proof to justify this claim, following which his nomination was rejected.

Meanwhile, ET Sindh comprising Justice Agha Faisal from Sindh High Court (SHC) accepted the nomination papers of Federal Water Resources Minister Faisal Vawda in Karachi while rejecting the appeal of Qadir Mandokhel from Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). The PPP leader challenged the decision of RO/Provincial Election Commissioner Sindh Aijaz Anwer Chouhan to accept Vawda’s nomination papers. Mandokhel alleged that Vawda was a dual national at the time of filing his nomination papers for general elections 2018. Mandokhel also took the plea that petitions seeking Vawda’s disqualification were pending in Islamabad High Court (IHC) and Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). The ET rejected Mandokhel’s appeal and observed that cases against the Federal Minister were still undecided and he cannot be barred from contesting Senate polls on the basis of pending adjudication. The ET then allowed Vawda to contest Senate polls by accepting his nomination papers.

The ECP is scheduled to issue revised list of Senate nominations today (February 24) while tomorrow (February 25) is the last date for withdrawal of candidature (if any). March 3 is polling day.

Justice Shahid Waheed of the Lahore High Court acting as an election tribunal here Tuesday dismissed an appeal of Pervez Rahid a PML-N candidate for senate and upheld the decision of Returning Officer (RO) rejecting his nomination papers.

Earlier, the court when asked the controller Punjab House present in the court room about his presence in his office when Pervez Rashid wanted to pay his dues, said he was in hospital but his staff was present in the office and no one had contacted him for submitting any amount.

The counsel of Pervez Rashid argued that the appellant had never been informed by the officials of the Punjab House in writing that he owed any amount to it in terms of rent charges.

He said the RO gave the appellant one-day time for the payment of the amount, however, the officials concerned did not receive the amount.

He said his client is even now ready to pay the amount in cash and the same request was also submitted before the returning officers but his nomination papers were rejected on an objection of a defaulted amount of over rupees 9 million.

The court asked the counsel whether the appellant availed the accommodation at the Punjab House during 2011 to 2018.

The counsel said it had been alleged that the appellant was a defaulter since 2011 whereas he was elected senator in the same year.

He said the RO acted beyond his jurisdiction and unlawfully rejected his nomination papers.

He therefore prayed to the court to allow the applicant to submit the amount in question and also direct the returning officer to accept his nomination papers and include his name in the final list of the candidates for senate polls.

On a court query the counsel of Rana Mudassar who had filed an objection against Pervez Rashid said the amount in question had to be paid in the office of controller of Punjab House or through the bank. He said a cross-cheque was not a valid and legal way to submit the amount.

He said the returning officer had given a day time to submit the amount but Pervez Rashid failed to adopt a legal way.

Advocate General Punjab also contended that Pervez Rahshid did not mention about the dues of Punjab House in his declaration submitted with his nomination papers for senate.

The court after hearing the arguments in detailed dismissed the appeal of Pervez Rashid.

The appellate tribunal in Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday declared Faisal Vawda, federal minister for water resources, eligible to contest the upcoming Senate elections.

The SHC tribunal hearing the appeal filed by Qadir Khan Mandokhel against the acceptance of nomination papers of Vawda by the returning officer for contesting the elections ruled that the appeal was devoid of merit. The tribunal rejected the objections on the nomination papers of Faisal Vawda, which were related to his alleged dual nationality.

The objections against Faisal Vawda were raised by Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Qadir Khan Mandokhail.

In his petition, Mandokhail had stated that the federal minister did not reveal his American citizenship, adding that he didn’t deserve to hold any public post. The tribunal stated in a written order that the appellant made his entire case upon the alleged renunciation documents; however, remained unable to satisfy this tribunal as to where the said copies of the relevant documentation were obtained. Vawda is a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf candidate on a general seat from Sindh.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021