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ISLAMABAD: Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), Wednesday, issued notice to Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) leader Ishaq Dar on a petition seeking his disqualification from Senate membership that was moved to electoral body last year after Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani failed to initiate action on a related application within the stipulated time period.

A three-member ECP bench led by Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja and comprising Nisar Ahmed Durrani and Shah Muhammad Jatoi heard the case, moved by Advocate Azhar Siddique, and issued notice to the former finance minister in connection with the matter before the case was adjourned.

The petition, moved in December last year, seeks Dar’s disqualification under Article 62 and 63 on the grounds that Dar was declared a defaulter by the Supreme Court, back in the year 2018.

According to the petition, a three-member judge SC bench headed by then Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar declared Dar as a defaulter in the case related to the appointment of Atta-ul-Haq Qasmi as Managing Director and Chairman Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV).

The court, apart from Dar, also held the then Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed and the then Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Fawad Hassan Fawad responsible for Qasmi’s appointment and financial benefits he received.

The petitioner stated that he moved an application to the chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani on November 6 last year for filing a reference in ECP for Dar’s disqualification on the basis that he was a defaulter in terms of the relevant provisions of Article 62 and 63. However, the chairman Senate never took any action, according to the petitioner.

The Senate chief was required to take action on the application within 30 days. In this context, Article 63 (2) provides that if any question arises whether a member of Parliament has become disqualified, the speaker or chairman Senate, shall, within 30 days, refer the question to the chief election commissioner.

Article 63 (3) provides that the CEC shall lay the question of disqualification of an MP before the ECP which shall give its decision not later than three months from its receipt by the CEC.

On February 2, Dar, through a letter, approached the Senate chief to convey his ‘readiness and willingness’ to take oath of his Senate membership virtually.

In reply to Dar’s letter, the chairman Senate, on February 22, declined Dar’s request—contending that the constitution did not have any provision of allowing virtual oath.

In March, 2018, after Dar was elected as Senator on a technocrat seat in Senate elections, Nawazish Pirzada from Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) challenged his election to Senate in SC on the grounds that he was declared as an absconder by an accountability court in December 2017 in a corruption reference filed against him by National Accountability Bureau (NAB). Dar is in London since October 2017. The SC suspended the notification of Dar’s election as Senator in May 2018. Consequently, the ECP suspended the notification of his Senate membership. In December last year, the apex court restored his membership of the upper house of Parliament following which the electoral body withdrew its notification of suspension of Dar’s Senate membership.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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