Lahore (Web Desk): An election tribunal on Tuesday dismissed Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senior leader Pervaiz Rashid’s appeal against the rejection of his Senate nomination papers by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
The verdict was issued by a single-member bench of Justice Shahid Waheed after the arguments in the case had finished.
Last week, the ECP had rejected Rashid's nomination papers. The former federal minister was told that he was a defaulter of the Punjab House in Islamabad and his nomination would be accepted only after he cleared the dues.
The PML-N leader challenged the rejection of his papers at the Punjab Election Appellate Tribunal of the Lahore High Court (LHC), saying that he was ready to address the objections raised by the returning officer (RO).
During today's hearing, Pervaiz Rashid's lawyer said that the RO had rejected his client's papers saying that the former information minister was a defaulter of the Punjab House in Islamabad and his nomination would be accepted only after he cleared the dues.
The PML-N leader’s counsels added that not clearing the dues had not been the intention of their client, adding their client wanted to deposit the money but neither any officer was ready to hear him nor any account details were provided for the purpose.
The respondent side strongly opposed the stance, imploring that the RO, accepting the stance of Pervaiz Rashid, had given him 24 hours to submit the dues, but he failed to do so.
The objector, in his arguments, said that Rashid knew that he had to pay outstanding dues but did not submit any payment. He also raised questions over the argument by Rashid's lawyer, in which the latter had denied that the PML-N leader stayed at Punjab House.
"If Pervez Rashid did not stay at the Punjab House, why is he ready to pay off the dues?" asked the objector. He added that the RO had given Rashid 48 hours to clear his dues but the former minister failed to do so.
"Where did Pervez Rashid have to submit the dues?" asked the judge.
The objector told the court that the money was supposed to be paid to the controller but it was not submitted
When the court asked Punjab House's controller, who was also present in court, about the matter he said: "I was in the hospital that day. No one contacted me or my staff."
The controller presented the record of the Punjab House as well as the audit report in court. He said that a notice regarding pending dues was sent at Pervaiz Rashid’s residence in Defense Housing Authority (DHA) residence.
Advocate General (AG) of Punjab, who was also a respondent in the case, said that Rashid in his appeal had not said that he did not book a room in Punjab House.
"Pervez Rashid was not given a room on charity basis, there are charges for a room," the AG said.
After hearing both sides' arguments, the tribunal turned down Rashid's appeal.
The Punjab government had released a list of people in 2018 who had not cleared their bills for staying and taking meals at the Punjab House. Rashid was among those who were named in the list.
PTI MPA Zainab Omar had filed an objection against Rashid through her lawyer Rana Mudassar to the returning officer/provincial election commissioner in Lahore.
According to the list released by the Punjab government a couple of years ago, Rashid and several PML-N leaders, government officials and their relatives owed a total amount exceeding Rs60 million.
As per the list, Rashid owed a sum of Rs7.05 million of which Rs0.69 million was owed for his stay in 2011 from January to August and Rs6.4 million for his stay between June 2013 and May 2018.
Talking to newsmen following the tribunal's verdict, Pervaiz Rashid said that in 2019, a "fake register" was prepared to reflect that he owed money to Punjab House.
"I know which crime I have been punished for and I will continue to commit this crime," he added.
Soon after the tribunal's decision, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz in a tweet paid tribute to her party’s senior leader.
"Pervaiz Rashid is not the name of an individual but of a mindset, an ideology and a shining symbol of democracy. Such symbols stay alive in any situation. He has been an asset to the party in the past and will remain an asset of not only the party but of national politics as a respected companion and a veteran soldier of democracy."