• Taj Haider questions if law allows ‘withdrawal’ of valid signatures
• Senate Secretariat insists requisition has become infructuous
ISLAMABAD: The controversy over roadblocks in the way of a Senate session took a new turn on Wednesday as the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) raised legal questions about the alleged withdrawal of signatures by five members, who have not been officially named by the Senate Secretariat, which in turn maintains that the requisition has become infructuous.
In a letter to Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, PPP Senator Taj Haider, who had submitted a requisition signed by 28 members, said he was informed by the secretariat that “the subject requisition does not fulfil the condition of required number of members for summoning the Senate session”.
He also referred to a telephonic conversation with Mr Sanjrani, during which it had been conveyed that five senators who had signed the requisition had withdrawn their signatures.
“In response to your call, I had officially written to the secretariat to officially provide me the names of those senators who had allegedly withdrawn their names”.
He regreted that despite his written request, the September 25 letter did not mention the names of the senators who allegedly withdrew their signatures.
He said quite a few legal questions arise, even if it is assumed for a moment that the allegation of withdrawal of signatures is correct. He stressed that Consti-tution as well as the rules of procedure and conduct of business in the Senate do not provide for withdrawal of signatures from requisition after validly signing it.
“Even otherwise can valid signatures on a legal document be withdrawn on a subsequent date?” he asked. He inquired whether the alleged withdrawal by five senators had been sent to the Senate Secretariat in writing or was it only through a telephone call.
Senator Haider also sought clarification on whether the secretariat had asked the senators to submit their withdrawals in writing, given that it was a legal and constitutional matter.
He questioned whether, even if the withdrawal of signatures had been submitted to the secretariat in writing, these written letters were kept on record, and if so, could copies of these letters be provided to him.
“Even if we assume for a moment that the allegation is correct, doesn’t it open a door for a few senators to keep their other worthy colleagues hostage even after signing a requisition?.
“How can the Senate Secretariat or the office of the Senate chairman take on a role as an adjudicator for withdrawals, considering it’s not granted by the Constitution or Senate rules?” he added.
He stated that it is an established parliamentary convention for parliamentary parties’ leaders to gather the signatures of their respective party members on such documents or requisitions.
Senator Haider pointed out that under Article 54(3) of the Constitution and Senate Rule 3, it’s the constitutional duty of the Senate chairman to summon the Senate within 14 days when a requisition signed by the required members is submitted.
In response, the Senate Secretariat said that five members withdrew their signatures through their written withdrawal letter addressed to the Senate chairman by mentioning categorically that the requisition for summoning the session to the extent of their signatures may be treated as withdrawn.
“After withdrawal of signatures by five members out of the 28 signatories, the constitutional requirement of number of signatories is not fulfilled… and legally the requisition earlier submitted has become infructuous,” Mohammad Azam, Deputy Secretary (Legislation), said in a letter, a copy of which is available with Dawn.
He, however, did not mention names of those senators who subsequently “withdrew” their signatures. He also failed to point out any law providing for withdrawal of signatures from a requisition.
Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2023