- PM’s counsel says substantial evidence necessary for disqualification of MNA
- PM’s counsel cites SC judgments to the bench
- Says the court has already declared Article 62 of Constitution ‘ambiguous’ and a ‘nightmare’
- Hearing adjourned till January 16
Makhdoom Ali Khan, counsel for Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, Friday resumed his arguments over Panama Papers case and maintained that substantial evidence was required for the disqualification of a member of the National Assembly.
He said that a declaration from a court of law is required in order to proceed further with Article 62 of the Constitution. ‘Within the purview of article 62 an elected member can be disqualified if alleged of possessing fake educational degrees or concealment of assets,’ he argued.
He maintained that the evidence presented by petitioners so far did not fulfil the requirements for the disqualification.
A five-member larger bench of apex court headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa is conducting the hearing of the case. The bench compromises comprising Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, Justice Gulzar Ahmad, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan, and is hearing a case filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and others seeking investigation into Panama Papers.
During the course of arguments, Makhdoom Khan referred to a judgment on a petition by a PTI leader in 2014 against the PM that termed Article 62 as both ‘ambiguous’ and a ‘nightmare’.
In the petition Mr Khakwani of PTI took the PM to task for lying on the floor of the National Assembly about not seeking help from former army chief Raheel Sharif to pacify things with Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri during heydays of 2014 sit-in. Interestingly, the decision was written by Justice Khosa. PM’s counsel further argued that in order to gauge the veracity of any statement that can disqualify a person, it has to take into account its context and background.
‘Justice Khosa wrote in his judgment that the requirements of the present standards laid down in articles 62 and 63 can only be fulfilled by prophets,’ he told the bench.
He also cited the Sadiq Baloch vs Jehangir Khan Tarin case and said that the verdict of disqualification of Sadiq Baloch was made at tribunal level but the apex court had declared the verdict null and void.
“Solid evidence is required for the disqualification of parliamentarians while judicial declaration is vital for the disqualification of PM under Article 62 of the Constitution. A conviction is necessary for disqualification with any regard under articles 62 and 63,” he added.
Makhdoom Ali Khan further said that one can be disqualified under article 62 on the basis of fake educational degrees and concealment of assets.
The issue of fake degrees was resolved at tribunal level, he added.
The issue of ineligibility could be raised at the time of the filing of nomination papers and after election the criteria of ineligibility could not be lowered. However, application of quo warranto could be filed, he argued.
At this juncture, Justice Khosa told Makhdoom Ali Khan that the cases he was referring to were against the Election Commission and not the tribunal.
Citing the disqualification case of former President General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, Makhdoom Ali Khan said that his case was decided in the light of judicial verdicts. Justice Ejaz Afzal observed that the apex court had indeed issued a declaration of a violation of oath in the Musharraf case.
On this, Makhdoom Ali Khan said that a declaration is necessary for the disqualification as both disqualification and declaration cannot be united. The address of the PM in the National Assembly was also challenged before.
“An allegation was also levelled on PM for not speaking the truth and the Speaker National Assembly had rejected the reference without declaration. The Lahore High Court upheld the verdict of the Speaker and later on the Supreme Court also upheld the same,” he explained.
After missing the hearing on Thursday, due to pain in his back, a fresh and invigorating Naeem Bukhari was back in the court on Friday, laying to rest rumours that made rounds that PTI is not content with his performance and is considering to replace him.
Earlier, PTI counsel Naeem Bukhari and Jamat e Islami counsel Taufeeq Asif had concluded their arguments in the Panama Papers case before the court on Wednesday last.
The Supreme Court later adjourned the hearing till January 16.