The Islamabad High Court (IHC) reserved on Wednesday a verdict on former prime minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani’s petition challenging the election of the Senate chairman.
IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah took up the petition. After a preliminary hearing, the court reserved its judgement on the maintainability of the petition, which is likely to be announced shortly.
During the hearing, the top IHC judge suggested that the petitioner could send a reference to the National Assembly speaker under Article 63 to have his grievance redressed.
“Has the Senate chairman ever been removed from the post in the past?” Justice Minallah asked Farooq H Naek, who represented Gillani. “What is the procedure for removal of the Senate chairman?” he further asked.
The judge observed that the court abstains from unnecessarily intervening in the matter. “You can take the matter to a Senate committee,” he suggested. At this, the counsel said no committee has powers to dislodge the Senate chairman.
Senator Gillani moved the petition through his counsel Farooq H Naek requesting the high court to declare the result of the election of Senate chairman held on March 12 “illegal, unlawful and void”.
He further demanded that the IHC declare the rejection of seven votes polled in favour of the petitioner illegal and suspend the notification dated March 13 regarding the re-election of Sadiq Sanjrani as Senate chairman and restrain him from carrying out his duties in this capacity until this petition is decided.
Gillani alleged in his petition that the government attempted to influence the result of the election to the seat of Senate chairman to win it by hook or crook.
“During the process of counting of votes the Presiding Officer (Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah) arbitrarily rejected 7 of the votes (the rejected votes) cast in the petitioner’s favour on the ground that stamp is affixed on the name of the petitioner despite protest of the petitioner’s polling agent Senator Farooq H. Naek that the stamp had been fixed within the box containing the name of the petitionern,” he contended.
“The votes rejected by the presiding officer clearly evince the voter’s intent to vote for the petitioner and no one else,” the petitioner argued. Moreover, he added, these are in compliance with the notice affixed near the polling booth as well as the understanding conveyed by the Senate secretary.