March 12, 2021
By Ahmed Saeed
The Presiding Officer should not have rejected the seven votes on Friday, as a stamp on the name of a candidate clearly indicates a voter’s intention, said former Senate Chairman Wasim Sajjad.
Sajjad was speaking to Voicepk.net with reference to Friday’s election of Sadiq Sanjrani as Senate chairman. In the final count, seven of the votes ostensibly polled in favour of his rival Yousaf Raza Gillani were declared rejected.
Sadiq Sanjrani, was the nominated candidate of the ruling government alliance, while Yousaf Raza Gillani, was nominated by the opposition Pakistan Democratic Alliance. Sanjrani secured 49 votes, while Gillani received 42 votes.
Presiding Officer Senator Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah of the Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) rejected seven votes polled in favour of Yousaf Raza Gillani, ruling that the stamp on the ballot papers were marked on the name of the candidate instead of the empty space in front of the candidate’s name.
The defeat came as a shock to the joint opposition that had the support of 52 members.
“A stamp on the name of the candidate clearly indicates the intention of the voter,” Sajjad told Voicepk.net. He said he had given a ruling as Senate Chairman during the election of the deputy chairman in 1997 when he declared 18 rejected votes as valid, that had the stamp on the name of the candidate.
“I gave the ruling on the basis that the voter’s intention was clear on the ballot,” the former Senate Chairman said. He said those 18 votes had been rejected in the Senate chairman’s election in which he was a candidate.
“I won the Senate chair through a thin margin, but when I conducted the election of the Senate deputy chairperson soon after I ruled such rejected votes as valid,” he added.
Similarly, Khalid Ranjha, a former Senator and former federal law minister, was of the opinion that the PO should ascertain the voter’s intention in such situations.
“If the stamp is off the designated space but within the box of the candidate, this will clearly indicate that the voter wished to vote for the candidate,” he said. There are judgments and rulings regarding situations in which a vote is to be rejected or deemed valid, the former federal minister said.
The opposition leaders said that they would challenge the Senate chairman election in the election tribunal.
However, the opposition alliance suffered another setback when the government-backed candidate Mirza Mohammad Afridi won the election for the deputy chairman of the Senate with 54 votes by defeating Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, who grabbed 44 votes.