LAHORE: An election tribunal on Tuesday dismissed an appeal of senior PML-N leader Pervaiz Rashid who challenged rejection of his nomination papers by the returning officer for the Senate polls.

During the hearing, Rashid’s counsel argued before the tribunal 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 same.

Justice Shahid Waheed, the one-member tribunal, observed that the Election Act 2017 did not empower the RO and this tribunal to issue any such direction to any government official. “In the result, this appeal being devoid of any merit is dismissed,” said the tribunal.

Speaking to the media, Rashid announced that he would challenge the decision of the tribunal through a writ petition before the Lahore High Court. The opposition leader said he knew for what crime he had been kept outside the election process and would keep repeating that crime.

He said that a former chief justice had made a false case of the default on the dues of Punjab House. He said his review petition was still pending with the Supreme Court and he was not bound to pay the amount till a decision on the matter.

The appellant had contended that the RO acted beyond his jurisdiction and unlawfully rejected his nomination papers. He asked the tribunal to set aside the impugned decision of the RO and allow him to contest election of the Senate.

On objections filed by PTI MPA Zainab Umar and Advocate Rana Mudassir, a member of Insaf Lawyers Forum, the RO rejected the nomination papers of Mr Rashid. They contended that Mr Rashid, also a former senator, was a defaulter of Punjab House and the unpaid amount was over Rs9 million.

As per the documents produced by the objectors, Rashid owed Rs7.05 million including Rs0.69 million charges for his stay between January and August 2011 and Rs6.4 million from June 2013 to May 2018. He also owned another amount of Rs 2.7 million for the stay of her daughter Poonam Rashid in the Punjab House.

Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2021

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