Dual nationality holders cannot hold public office: SC

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The Supreme Court on Thursday passed a historic verdict in the dual nationality case, declaring all parliamentarians and provincial assembly members holding dual nationalities “ineligible to hold any public office” and rendering them disqualified as lawmakers of the country’s lawmaking bodies.
Those immediately affected by the court order include four members of parliament and seven members of provincial assemblies. The MNAs who stand disqualified are Chaudhry Zahid Iqbal‚ Farahnaz Isphahani‚ Farhat Mohammad Khan and Jamil Ahmad Malik.
The disqualified members of Punjab Assembly include Muhammad Akhlaq, Muhammad Ashraf Chohan‚ Chaudhry Wasim Qadir, Chaudhry Nadeem Khadim and Amna Buttar. Sindh Assembly’s disqualified members include Nadia Gabol and Dr Ahmad Ali Shah. Following the order, the Election Commission of Pakistan also de-notified all eleven members as lawmakers.
However, Interior Minister Rehman Malik avoided an immediate axing, as the court remarked that at the time of filing nomination papers for the 2008 Senate election, Malik made a false declaration to the effect that he was not subject to any of the disqualifications, therefore, reference would be required to be forwarded to the Senate chairman against Malik under Article 63(2) in view of the provision of Section 99(1)(f) of the Representation of People Act of 1976. Earlier, a three-member SC bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry announced the short order on the petition filed under Article 184(3) of the constitution seeking disqualification of dual nationality holding MPs and MPAs due to violation of Article 63(1)(c) of the constitution. The bench had reserved the verdict on September 18.
According to the verdict, the court invoked Article 63(1)(c), stating, “A person shall be disqualified from being elected or chosen as, and from being, a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament), if he ceases to be a citizen of Pakistan, or acquires the citizenship of a foreign state”.
The court in its order said parliamentarians had to submit a declaration before the elections and if the same turned out to be false, he or she was liable to be disqualified from being elected or chosen as member of parliament or a provincial assembly for making misstatement or concealment of facts and it would also exposes him or her to criminal proceedings contemplated under Sections 193, 196, 197, 198 and 199 of PPC. The court directed the Election Commission of Pakistan to de-notify the memberships of the named MPs. The law states that a person shall not be qualified from being elected or chosen as a member of an assembly if “he is sagacious, righteous and non-profligate and honest and Ameen”.
In view of the false declaration filed by Malik at the time of contesting the election to the Senate in 2008, the court noted that he could not be considered sagacious, righteous, honest and Ameen within the contemplation of Section 99(1)(f) of the Act of 1976, the court observed.
“Therefore, for such purposes, Article 63(p) is to be adhered to because the disqualification incurred by him is envisaged under the law, referred to his own statement that he had renounced his citizenship of UK whereas the fact remains that such renunciation along with declaration can only be seen as having been made on May 29, 2012.” Like other parliamentarians, the court also ordered Malik to refund all monetary benefits drawn by him up until July 11, 2012 for the period during which he occupied the public office.
The court directed the Election Commission of Pakistan to initiate legal proceedings against Malik, as it has been directed in the case of other parliamentarians. Later, the Election Commission of Pakistan issued notifications of disqualification for eleven members of the national and provincial assemblies. The ECP also directed for instituting legal proceedings against those disqualified.

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