IHC rejects Gilani’s plea challenging Senate top slot election

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday rejected former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s petition challenging the presiding officer’s rejection of seven votes during the Senate chairman race.

The ruling PTI-backed candidates won, on March 12 the Senate’s top seats in a “contentious” election marred by the discovery of “spy cameras” in polling booths.

Sadiq Sanjrani, the current Senate Chairman, was re-elected in the elections. Gilani, a joint candidate of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), a coalition of opposition parties, had been defeated.

A total of 98 senators exercised their right to vote, with seven votes – the majority of which were cast in favor of Gilani – being refused.

Senator Muzaffar Hussain Shah, the presiding officer, declared Sanjrani the winner after he secured 48 votes to Gilani’s 42 votes.

The verdict stated that the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) is the state’s highest legislative institution, representing the people of Pakistan and that upholding its prestige, respect, and freedom is a constitutional responsibility of all other branches of government.

“It is the highest venue for, among other things, settling national problems and constitutional conflicts,” the ruling said, adding that “parliamentary rights, powers, and immunities have been specifically included in the Constitution.”

In his ruling, Justice Minallah stated that the wording used by the Constitution’s framers is clear and consistent in preventing a court from interfering with parliament’s freedom. “It is founded on the fundamental principle of division of powers between the three branches of government, namely the judiciary, legislature, and executive.”

“The Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) Houses are empowered to administer their own procedures, and the Constitution expressly prohibits courts from examining their legality.”

Any effort by a court to intervene in the Houses’ proceedings by challenging their legality is likely to threaten the Majlis-e-( Shoora’s Parliament’s) integrity, reputation, and freedom, on the one hand, thus exposing the apex constitutional legislative platform to unwanted and unwarranted scrutiny on the other.”

Any encroachment by the judicial branch into the domain of the legality of Parliamentary trials, according to Justice Minallah, undoubtedly has implications that are detrimental to the public interest. “This erodes the sanctity of the supreme legislative constitutional platform, as well as the Majlis-e-authority, Shoora’s unity, and dignity” (Parliament).

The order said, “Such court intrusions deeply affect the people’s trust in the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament).”

He said that the judicial branch must not only carry out its duties impartially but also be seen as such by the stakeholders, namely the Pakistani citizens. “As a result, in cases that may be settled by the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) itself, courts should show more discipline.”

The court said that the only way to ensure the nation’s well-being and stability is for it to have an influential, autonomous, and functioning parliament. “The Majlis-e-institutional Shoora’s strength and sovereignty are also essential for the state’s stability and legitimacy” (Parliament).

“As a result, Article 69 must be considered and applied in this sense, and on the basis of the cardinal principle of institutional division of powers between state institutions,” it said.

The IHC decision also declared that the chosen members are responsible for the respect, honor, reputation, and freedom of parliament and that it is their responsibility to “jealously protect” against unwarranted intrusions by other branches in its proceedings.

It stated that parliament’s efficiency, efficacy, and freedom depended on the elected members’ determination to uphold the Constitution’s constitutional rights, powers, and immunities.

The judgment said, “It is an onerous responsibility of the political leadership and any chosen representative to prohibit the judicial branch from exercising the right of judicial review relating to the proceedings of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament), which are privileged and covered under Article 69 of the Constitution.”

“The Petitioner’s grievance in this case solely concerns the validity of proceedings of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament’s upper house), and therefore it is immune from intervention by this Court under Article 69 of the Constitution.”

The method of electing the chairman of the Senate of Pakistan is not procedural in nature, but rather a structured transaction of business of the Upper House that can be reasonably represented as its internal proceedings, according to the ruling.

“The entire process is thus wholly outside the corrective jurisdiction of a High Court. Even if it was not so, this Court would have exercised restraint because of its deference to the independence, dignity and prestige of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament). The very nature of the composition and status of the two Houses is such that the court has to presume that it has the ability to resolve the most difficult and complex disputes without involving the judicial branch. The Petition is, therefore, not maintainable.”

The petitioner said that as a joint nominee of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), he has the support of the majority of the Senate’s worthy members and that it is evident that the majority cannot only oust the current Chairman Senate but also nominate Gilani to the position of Chairman.

“If that is the case, then the Petitioner (Gilani) has a democratic and sufficient legislative solution at his disposal, which would affirm the confidence of the bulk of the Senate’s worthy members while also enhancing the integrity and freedom of the Majlis-e-Shoora” (Parliament).


The court has noted that it is confident that an appropriate procedural recourse exists for determining that the seven honorable senators wanted to vote for Gilani.

“In such an eventuality the judicial branch ought to exercise restraint, notwithstanding the bar contained under Article 69 of the Constitution.”

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