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IHC Rejects Gilani’s Petition Challenging Senate Chairman Election Results

by Newsweek Pakistan

Farooq Naeem—AFP

In verdict, court says political parties and lawmakers should resolve their issues without involving the judiciary

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday rejected a petition filed by former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to challenge the Senate chairman election results, ruling that it is inadmissible for hearing.

In his ruling, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah wrote that “language used by the framers of the Constitution is unambiguous and effective in order to prevent a court from encroaching upon the independence of the Majlis-e-Shoora.” He noted that the Constitution clearly bars any judicial interference in the proceedings of Parliament, adding that any attempt to do so would undermine the dignity and independence of Parliament and expose the judiciary to “unwarranted criticism.”

Stressing the judicial interference in parliamentary matters could erode the public’s confidence in Parliament, Justice Minallah said it also risked making courts arbitrators in matters of politics. “In a politically polarized environment, intervention by the courts and that too in disregard to the constitutional privileges, powers and immunities of the Majlis-e-Shoora is likely to have profound ramifications in the context of the confidence of the people relating to impartiality of the judicial branch,” he wrote.

The judgment affirmed that the Senate chairman election was “wholly outside” the court’s jurisdiction and declared the petition as “not maintainable.” Rather, it said, Gilani had the option to remove incumbent chairman Sadiq Sanjrani from office through a resolution passed in the Upper House of Parliament. “This Court expects that, in order to maintain the dignity, integrity and independence of Majlis-e-Shoora, the chosen representatives and political leadership will endeavor to resolve disputes without involving the judicial branch of the State, by giving effect to the privileges, powers and immunities prescribed in the Constitution,” the ruling concluded.

Gilani, the joint Pakistan Democratic Movement candidate for the Senate chairmanship against the government’s Sanjrani, lost the election by six votes, securing 42 compared to his opponent’s 48.

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