SHC tribunal disqualifies PTI candidate from contesting Senate election

Published February 23, 2021
Saifullah Abro did not meet the criteria laid down in the law to contest Senate election on a technocrat seat, tribunal rules. - Photo courtesy: Facebook
Saifullah Abro did not meet the criteria laid down in the law to contest Senate election on a technocrat seat, tribunal rules. - Photo courtesy: Facebook

KARACHI: An election tribunal of the Sindh High Court on Monday disqualified a candidate of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) for contesting the March 3 Senate election.

The tribunal headed by Justice Agha Faisal ruled that Saifullah Abro did not meet the criteria laid down in the law to contest Senate election on a technocrat seat.

The appellant, Ghulam Mustafa Memon, filed an appeal against the Feb 18 order issued to a returning officer (RO) of the Election Commission of Pakistan to accept nomination papers of Mr Abro for the Senate election on a technocrat seat.

While representing the appellant, senior lawyer Rasheed A. Razvi argued that the PTI candidate did not qualify within the statutory definition of technocrat as the only achievement placed before the RO was a certificate issued to a firm for the completion of some projects and the same could not be considered a national or international achievement by the respondent.

Appeal against the acceptance of Vawda’s nomination to be heard today

The lawyer for Mr Abro, Haider Waheed, argued that the appeal was not maintainable under Section 113(3) of the Election Act 2017 and the respondent had duly completed the relevant education, requirements and the achievements were also demonstrated by the completion of 13 construction projects within 20 years.

The tribunal observed that the Supreme Court had illumined the definition of technocrat for determination of eligibility of a candidature in such pre-electoral matters and the record of achievements was to be subjected to scrutiny whether the same was nationally or internationally recognised.

It further said that there appeared to be three integral constituents of this definition, holding a degree requiring completion of 16 years education recognised by the Higher Education Commission, 20 years experience and record of achievements at the national and international level.

The tribunal further noted that the first two facets appeared to be satisfied as the respondent was a qualified civil engineer and had over 20 years experience in the relevant field, but a candidate should also have a record of achievements.

However, it stated that if the record of the company of the respondent about completion of 13 construction projects was accepted, the same would be for the entity itself and not of the respondent personally and nothing had been placed before the tribunal to suggest the completion of these projects was an achievement of the respondent himself.

“The completion of any contract within the stipulated time can only be lawfully expected and mere compliance of a contractual obligation, by a third party, cannot be considered an achievement at a national or international level”, it added.

Therefore, the tribunal ruled that the acceptance of the relevant nomination appeared to be in direct violation of Section 2 of the Election Act and thus could not be sustained.

Plea against Vawda

The tribunal on Monday also issued notices to the ECP and Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda for Tuesday (today) on an appeal challenging the acceptance of his nomination papers for the upcoming Senate election.

Qadir Khan Mandokhel filed an appeal against the Feb 18 order of the ECP to accept nomination papers of the federal minister for the Senate election.

The appellant contended that the nomination form of Mr Vawda should not have been entertained since he was still a sitting MNA and a federal minister while an earlier complaint against him was still pending before the ECP and a petition before the Islamabad High Court for not disclosing his US nationality in the nomination papers filed during the general elections in 2018.

Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2021

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