The Lahore High Court on Wednesday sought replies from concerned quarters including the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) following a petition which pleaded the disqualification of PML-N leader Ishaq Dar as a member of the Senate.
The petition sought an early decision on the reference under Article 63(2), 62 and 63(O) of the Constitution, which was pending before the electoral watchdog since February 2022.
The petitioner's counsel, Advocate Azhar Siddique, highlighted that the Supreme Court had declared the former finance minister a “defaulter” by the three-judge bench headed by ex-chief justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar when he heard the suo moto case against Attaul Haq Qasmi’s “illegal” appointment as PTV chief.
He maintained that the apex court held former ministers Pervez Rashid and Ishaq Dar as well as former principal secretary to the premier responsible for Qasmi’s appointment and the financial benefits he had received. The court had declared Qasmi as a “beneficiary of illegal acts”.
Azhar continued that Pervaiz Rashid and Ishaq Dar were guilty of “(ignoring) the law and disregarded their duty to confer benefits on Mr Qasmi”.
He further stated that as per the judgment, over Rs190 million were spent in the form of salaries and perks granted to Qasmi.
Ordering that the amount spent on the former MD and chairman of PTV be returned by those involved in the illegal appointment, the bench had said, “Qasmi will pay 50% of the amount, while the former ministers Pervaiz Rasheed and Ishaq Dar will pay 20% each and the former principal secretary to the premier will have to submit 10% of the Rs.190.78 million”.
“Qasmi’s attitude was unacceptable and he should not be appointed on any such post in the future,” the judgment further said.
Advocate Siddique implored that in view of the aforementioned facts and circumstances, the office of the petitioner moved a reference under the relevant constitutional articles to the office of chairman Senate, on November 6, 2021, with regards to filing of a reference to ECP for the disqualification of Dar as member Senate on the basis of his being a “defaulter”.
According to Azhar, no date had been fixed since May 26, as two months had passed and the ECP had been “deliberately lingering on the matter on one pretext or another prima facie just to facilitate the absconder”.
He contended before the court that the ECP delisted this case several times which he believed was against the norms of the Constitution.
The counsel further claimed that the ECP’s alleged act of joining hands with the federal government not only “ruined its image” but also raised many questions about its neutrality.
The advocate further argued that the ECP had once been an impartial and independent institution but now the impression was completely changed as it was considered a 'camp of specific political parties'.
He requested that the court direct the ECP to come to a conclusion on this matter as early as possible rather than keeping it unresolved.
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