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SC may wrap up lifetime disqualification case at next hearing

Justice Isa says impression should not be created that the case was being heard for or against political party
Complete hearing of life disqualification case - Aaj News

Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa hinted on Tuesday that the top court might wrap up the lifetime disqualification case at the next hearing scheduled to resume on January 4 (Thursday).

A seven-member Supreme Court larger bench led by CJP Isa took up a case related to the lifetime disqualification of politicians under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution. Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Aminuddin Khan, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Musarrat Hilali were other members of the bench. The proceedings were being broadcast live on the Supreme Court’s website.

The top court seeks to determine the debate on whether politicians disqualified under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution could contest polls in light of the amendments in the Elections Act 2017.

According to Article 62(1) (f) of the Constitution, a person shall not be qualified to be elected or chosen as a member of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) “unless — he is sagacious, righteous, non-profligate, honest and ameen, there being no declaration to the contrary by a court of law”.

Under the same law, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was disqualified in the Panama Papers case. Ex-premier Imran Khan was also disqualified under the same article in the Toshakhana case last year.

On one point, CJP Isa told lawyers who presented their arguments in the case via video link to appear in the SC in person. Later the hearing was adjourned till Jan 4 (Thursday) and the court hinted that the case might be wrapped up at the next proceedings.

While dictating the order of the day, Justice Isa said that an impression should not be created that the case was being heard for or against a political party. “We are only concerned with the constitutionality and legality of the matter,” he added.

‘Sadiq and ameen’

During the hearing, the CJP said that the title “sadiq and ameen” (truthful and honest) was reserved only for Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).

“No Muslim can even imagine saying the words ‘sadiq and ameen’ for themselves,” CJP Isa said.

“According to Islamic teachings, no one can be said to have an exemplary character,” the CJP said and added that even the founder of Pakistan Quaid-i-Azam would have been disqualified according to the qualification provisions.

“We all sin and therefore pray for forgiveness when someone dies,” the CJP said during the hearing. “If all these conditions were present earlier, even Quaid-i-Azam would have been disqualified.”

What is disqualification under Article 62(1) (f)

Two articles in the Constitution of Pakistan deal with the qualification of lawmakers. Article 62 defines the merits for qualification and Article 63 for disqualification for a person to become a member of the Parliament.

A sub-clause of Article 62, name 62(1) (f), says that a person shall not be qualified to be elected or chosen as a member of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) “unless — he is sagacious, righteous, non-profligate, honest and ameen, there being no declaration to the contrary by a court of law”.

While an MP could also be disqualified from holding public office for serious crimes under other laws of the country, the disqualification under 62(1) (f) is more severe.

A person disqualified under other laws may return to the parliament after five years from the date of conviction, but the disqualification under 62(1) (f) is for a lifetime.

Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification

The Supreme Court in 2017 ruled that Nawaz Sharif did not qualify to be honest and ameen because he hid his potential income from his son’s firm.

A law passed by the PDM-controlled parliament earlier this year reduced the disqualification period to five years for everyone. However, ambiguity remained.

PTI leaders have asserted recently that despite his acquittal, Nawaz Sharif remains disqualified form holding public office and hence cannot become a member of the parliament or prime minister.

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