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IHC dismisses petition seeking Sanjrani's disqualification as Senate chairman

April 15, 2019

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In this file photo, Sadiq Sanjrani takes oath as the new Senate chairman. — APP/File
In this file photo, Sadiq Sanjrani takes oath as the new Senate chairman. — APP/File

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday cleared Sadiq Sanjrani to continue holding the position of the Senate chairman.

Justice Aamer Farooq dismissed a petition seeking Sanjrani's disqualification for being 'under-age'.

The petitioner had challenged the eligibility of Sanjrani, contending that he could not become the acting president of Pakistan in President Arif Alvi's absence because he does not meet the requirements set by the Constitution.

According to the petitioner, the acting president must not be less than 45 years of age since the Constitution has defined the age limit for the position of the President of Pakistan. The petitioner had pointed out that Sanjrani, being 40-years-old, did not meet the basic requirement to hold the presidential office.

Announcing the verdict in an open court today, Justice Farooq in a short order pronounced: "The petition is dismissed."

Examine: Sadiq Sanjrani: a little-known politician from Chagai

Deputy Attorney General Raja Khalid Mehmood Khan in his concluding arguments said that no prescribed age for the acting president is written in the Constitution. He said that the Senate chairman holds the office of president in the latter's absence.

He recalled that the minimum age for a member of the Senate is 30 years and the Upper House elects the chairman from amongst its members.

In response to the petition, Sanjrani in his para-wise comments filed before the IHC stated: “The petitioner has filed [the] instant petition with mala fide intentions.”

He said the petition was filed without any just cause of action and a similar plea had already been dismissed by the Balochistan High Court. Furthermore, the petitioner has no locus standi (right to speak) in the matter, he said.

Sanjrani said: “The Constitution is paramount, and can only be amended by parliament in the manner provided therein. The petitioner challenging the spirit of the constitutional scheme is acting malafidely, seeking to obtain judgement which may be contrary to the said scheme.”

The written reply claimed that “the petitioner apparently seems to be habitual and trying to defame the constitutional officeholders without any just and proper cause and ground.”

Sanjrani requested the court to dismiss the petition with cost.

The law ministry in its reply contended that the petition was not maintainable and the petitioner had no locus standi. It also said that the IHC lacked jurisdiction as the petitioner was not an aggrieved person in terms of Article 199 of the Constitution.

Regarding the age of the Senate chairman, the ministry said: “There is always [a] distinction between the eligibility criteria of a person who is regularly elected or appointed to hold a public office and the criteria for a person who is required to hold [an office] temporarily in acting capacity on ex-officio basis.”

The mandate of Article 49 is to arrange for a stop-gap arrangement until the president is elected, it said, adding that qualification prescribed for the office of the president cannot be construed as the qualification for the acting president.