Rashid loses appeal against ECP rejection of Senate nomination

ECP had on Thursday rejected Rashid's nomination for the House for being a defaulter of the Punjab government

LAHORE: An election tribunal of Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday dismissed an appeal of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader and Senate hopeful Pervaiz Rashid against the rejection of his papers by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

The ECP had on Thursday rejected Rashid’s nomination for the Upper House for being a defaulter of the Punjab government.

In December 2018, the Punjab government had released a list of 76 politicians, bureaucrats and others for defaulting on the payment for their stay and meals at Punjab House during the tenure of the PML-N government.

The list had revealed that the former minister owes Rs7.05 million in dues to Punjab House in Islamabad for his stay between January and August 2011 and Rs6.4 million from June 2013 to May 2018.

His daughter, Poonam Rashid, also owed Rs2.7 million.

On Monday, he moved the tribunal against the ECP decision. Admitting his petition for hearing, the tribunal served a notice on the commission and directed the Punjab House management to attend today’s hearing and bring along the relevant record.

During the proceedings on Tuesday, the counsel for Rashid, Azam Nazir Tarar, informed Justice Shahid Waheed that the returning officer (RO) had rejected his client’s papers for Senate elections.

The ECP had told Rashid that he was a defaulter of the Punjab House and his nomination would be accepted only after he cleared the dues.

Tarar said Rashid was issued a notice from Punjab House to clear the amount. However, when he tried to pay the money, the authorities refused to take it.

The judge asked the government’s legal representative if the record of the Punjab House and ECP had been released to which the latter responded in the affirmative.

Rashid’s lawyer added that the former lawmaker had “collected Rs9.5 million after borrowing money” but the amount was not received by the government.

He said that the PML-N leader was ready to pay off all his dues and a request in this regard was submitted to the RO twice but there was no response from the government.

Tarar urged the court to check the Punjab House’s record to see that Rashid had not stayed in the government building and termed his rejection as “political revenge”.

The judge, however, noted that Rashid had not mentioned this in his appeal.

The defendant, in his arguments, said that Rashid knew that he had to pay outstanding dues but did not submit any payment. He also raised questions over the argument by Rashid’s lawyer, in which the latter had denied that the PML-N leader stayed at Punjab House.

“If Pervez Rashid did not stay at the Punjab House, why is he ready to pay off the dues?” asked the defendant. He added that the RO had given Rashid 48 hours to clear his dues but the former minister failed to do so.

“Where did Pervez Rashid have to submit the dues?” asked the judge.

“The money was supposed to be paid to the controller but it was not submitted,” the defendant responded. When the court asked Punjab House’s controller, who was also present in court, about the matter he said: “I was in the hospital that day. No one contacted me or my staff.”

The controller presented the record of the Punjab House as well as the audit report in court. He said that a notice regarding pending dues was sent at Rashid’s DHA residence.

Punjab Advocate General, who was also a respondent in the case, said that Rashid in his appeal had not said that he did not book a room in Punjab House.

“Pervez Rashid was not given a room on a charity basis, there are charges for a room,” the AG said.

After hearing both sides’ arguments, the tribunal turned down Rashid’s appeal.

‘FIXED MATCH’:

Commenting on the development, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz termed the rejection as a “fixed match”.

In a separate tweet, she paid a tribute to Rashid and said: “He is, and will remain, Nawaz Sharif’s reliable companion and an asset of the party […] a shining symbol of democracy.”

Meanwhile, Rashid while talking to reporters after the hearing said in 2019, a “fake register” was prepared to reflect that he owed money to Punjab House.

“I know which crime I have been punished for and I will continue to commit this crime,” he said.

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