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ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister and leader of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Yousuf Raza Gilani, on Monday, challenged the results of the election for the chairman Senate before the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

A single bench of Chief Justice Athar Minallah will hear the petition from March 24 (Wednesday).

The petition filed through Farooq H Naek has cited presiding officer Syed Muzzafar Hussain Shah, Ministry of Law and Justice, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, Senate Secretariat, and Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani as respondents.

Sadiq Sanjrani, a PTI-backed candidate, on March 12, was re-elected by defeating the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) candidate, Yousaf Raza Gilani.

Ninety-eight senators exercised their right to vote, out of which seven votes were rejected. Sanjrani received 48 votes against Gilani’s 42.

In his petition, Gilani prayed before the IHC to declare the results of the election as well as the decision to make Sadiq Sanjrani the Senate chairman “null and void.”

The petition also requested the IHC to declare the rejection of the seven votes for Gilani as unlawful and thus, declare him as returned candidate for the office of the Senate chairman.

The petitioner stated that the rejection of the seven votes which were “unambiguously” and “unequivocally” cast in the favour of the petitioner was illegal and unlawful.

It argued that the result of the election was contrary to the law and the Constitution thus, it should be set aside.

Gilani contended that “the presiding officer and the Senate secretary had shown their actions to be malafide as they had unequivocally allowed casting of vote through stamping in the box of the desired candidate and specified no place where the stamp had to be affixed, yet when it came to the counting of the votes, seven votes were rejected. The arbitrary rejection of votes is an attempt to disenfranchise the representatives of the people of Pakistan, it is an attempt to steal the elections with the use of the election machinery itself. This conduct is contrary to Article 19 of the Constitution and if kept unchecked will be tantamount to the collapse of the very basic tenants and structure upon which our Constitution is based.”

He added that a perusal of the rejected votes show that the intention was to vote for Gilani and no one else.

He maintained that if the respondents are allowed to get away with their “unlawful” activities then it would allow for practices such as open rigging, threats, and snatching of ballot papers to transpire at the floor of the upper house. He further said, “The respondents have attempted to abuse the process of law and are continuing to do so in depriving the petitioner of his lawfully acquired post.” The petitioner stated that the election for the Senate chairman could not take place without the due process of the law and in violation of Articles 4 and 10-A of the Constitution.

The petitioner maintained, “The decision of the presiding officer in rejecting the votes is a judicial decision made in gross violation of the law constituting substantive illegality rather than procedural irregularity and hence amenable to judicial review.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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