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SC moved to defer presidential poll

September 02, 2008

ISLAMABAD, Sept 1: A petition requested the Supreme Court on Monday to defer the Sept 6 presidential elections, saying the electoral college was incomplete because the chairman of the Senate, currently officiating as president, had not taken the oath prescribed for the office under the Constitution.

Moved by president of the Save the Judiciary organisation Hashmat Habib, the petition also requested the court to deliberate on the matter in the light of the Third Schedule of the Constitution.

The respondents in the petition are the returning officer for the presidential election, Chief Election Commissioner Qazi Mohammad Farooq, the Senate Chairman, who is the acting president, and presidential candidates Asif Ali Zardari, Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui and Senator Mushahid Hussain.

On Aug 30, the Election Commission had dismissed a similar petition filed by the same petitioner with an observation that it was a settled law that the Chairman of the Senate was not required to take oath prescribed for the office of the president and his previous oath was sufficient for performing functions as acting president.

But Mr Habib has urged the apex court to consider that the oath for the Chairman of the Senate or the Speaker National Assembly was not a substitute for the oath prescribed for the president under the Third Schedule.

The petitioner contended that the proposed election would be void because the electoral college was incomplete. Under the Article 50 of the Constitution, he said, parliament consisted of the president, the National Assembly and the Senate. But currently there was no president because the former president, Pervez Musharraf, had resigned and the acting president had not taken the prescribed oath.

He also stated that members of parliament “cannot act as proposers and seconders for a presidential candidate” unless the parliament’s quorum was complete.