Gilani challenges Sanjrani’s election as Senate chairman

Published June 9, 2022
Former prime minister and Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Yousuf Raza Gilani speaks during the Senate session. — DawnNewsTV/File
Former prime minister and Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Yousuf Raza Gilani speaks during the Senate session. — DawnNewsTV/File

ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday requested the Supreme Court to set aside the March 15, 2021 election to the office of Senate chairman in which Sadiq Sanjrani was declared successful.

In his petition, moved through his counsel Farooq H. Naek, Mr Gilani challenged the March 31, 2021 Islamabad High Court order rejecting a similar plea.

Backed by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), Mr Gilani had won the March 3, 2021 Senate election from Islamabad against Dr Hafeez Shaikh, a candidate of the then PTI government. The PDM later fielded Mr Gilani for the coveted post of Senate chairman.

President Dr Arif Alvi had on March 11 nominated Senator Syed Muzzafar Hussain Shah as the presiding officer to conduct the Senate chairman election, who according to the petition, had hostile attitude and bias towards the PPP for a long time.

The petition alleged seven votes were rejected unlawfully and as a result Mr Gilani secured 42 votes whereas Mr Sanjrani got 48. This showed that there was a difference of merely six votes between the two candidates and if the seven rejected votes were counted, Mr Gilani might emerge as the returned candidate, the petition argued.

On March 31, 2021, the IHC had rejected an intra-court appeal by holding that the ruling of the presiding officer was immune under the Constitution since it deals with the internal affairs of the Senate.

The petition contended that the high court had failed to appreciate that the voters were asked to put a stamp mark in the box of their candidate of choice and the petitioner’s polling agent, at the outset during the count, had specifically taken the plea before the presiding officer that the voters had rightly stamped the mark within the box which was required under the rules/guidelines/instructions. But, it regretted, the presiding officer arbitrarily rejected seven votes with mala fide intention and for ulterior considerations.

The petition emphasised that the high court had failed to appreciate and consider the mala fide intent of the presiding officer floating on the surface of record prima facie showing that neither the process of poll was fair nor just or impartial.

It was tainted with malice and the presiding officer was hell-bent on facilitating the then ruling party by abusing the due process of law and his official authority/powers.

The petition argued that the high court had also failed to appreciate that “in a politically polarised environment, intervention by the courts and that too in disregard to constitutional provisions was likely to have profound ramifications in the context of the confidence of the people relating to impartiality of the judicial branch”.

“The arbitrary rejection of votes is an attempt to disenfranchise the representatives of the people of Pakistan and 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 tantamount to the collapse of the very basic tenants and structure upon which our constitution is based,” the petition said.

Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2022

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