Gillani challenges IHC decision in Senate chairman election case

ISLAMABAD: Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Yousaf Raza Gillani on Thursday filed an intra-court appeal against an Islamabad High Court (IHC) decision concerning the election for the post of Senate chairman.

In the election held March 12, the government-backed candidates grabbed the top slots of chairman and deputy chairman in a contest marred by the claims of securing votes of opposition Senators and the discovery of cameras in the polling booths.

The former premier moved the IHC against the rejection of seven votes – he claims were cast in his favour – by a presiding officer. However, on March 24, the high court had dismissed the petition, maintaining Senate proceedings are immune to judicial interference.

The appeal, filed by Gillani’s counsel, said the bench did not take into account facts and figures during the proceedings.

Gillani’s appeal added that illegal activities can be interpreted by the courts whereas it was the job of the court to provide compensation for illegality and in such cases, the court has to check the intention of the voter.

“The court is requested to accept the intra-court appeal and single bench decision be rejected,” it added.

The IHC had said in its verdict that “the grievance of the petitioner in the matter in hand exclusively pertains to questioning the validity of proceedings of the upper house of the parliament and thus it is immune from interference by this Court under Article 69 of the Constitution”.

The 13-page order was authored by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah, who took up Gillani’s plea. A joint candidate of an 11-party opposition alliance – the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) – for the position of Senate chairman, Gillani had requested the court to declare the polls void.

98 senators had exercised their right to vote, out of which seven votes were rejected. Sanjrani who had received 48 votes as opposed to 42 votes of Gillani was later declared the winner by the presiding officer, Senator Muzaffar Hussain Shah. Gillani had later moved the IHC.

Dismissing the petition, the IHC noted that the parliament is the supreme legislative organ of the state, which represents the people of Pakistan and maintaining its dignity, respect and independence is of paramount importance and constitutional duty of other branches of the state.

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