- CJ Bandial says they will see whether or not ECP can issue lifetime disqualification orders
- Observers fear way being paved to install convicted, disqualified Nawaz as PM
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice (CJ) of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial said on Tuesday that Article 62(1)(f), which holds ultimate punishment of lifetime disqualification of lawmakers, is a ‘draconian’ constitutional provision.
CJ Umar Ata Bandial made the observation while heading a three-member Supreme Court (SC) bench, hearing a petition filed by former Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) senator Faisal Vawda against his lifelong disqualification by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the subsequent ruling by the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
During the proceedings on Tuesday, CJ Bandial observed that “Article 62(1)(f) is a draconian provision”, added that “this case will be heard with utmost care”.
Counsel for Vawda’s Waseem Sajjad argued in the court that Vawda had contested elections in 2018 and two years later a disqualification petition was filed in the high court for submitting a false affidavit.
However, the court observed that the ECP retained the right to investigate a false affidavit. “Even if the SC declares the lifetime disqualification orders illegal, the facts would remain the same,” remarked CJ Bandial, adding that the ECP has “properly reviewed” the case.
“The IHC has clearly stated in its judgment that Faisal Vawda had accepted dual citizenship,” argued the lawyer Farooq Hamid Naek.
“The only question, in this case, is whether or not the ECP can issue orders for lifetime disqualification,” observed CJ Bandial.
Terming Article 62(1)(f) a draconian law, the judge remarked he had to see if ECP can disqualify a Parliamentarian for life or not.
Later, the hearing was adjourned until October 6.
OBSERVERS FEAR WAY BEING PAVED FOR RETURN OF NAWAZ SHARIF IN PARLIAMENT
Article 62 (1)(f) of the Constitution, which sets the precondition for an MP to be “sadiq” and “ameen” (honest and righteous), was termed “draconian” by the chief justice, prompting questions if the courts are paving the way for the return of Nawaz Sharif, former prime minister who was ousted under the same provision and now lives in self-exile in London.
In April 2018, the Supreme Court barred Sharif from holding office for life in the Panama Papers corruption case. At the time, Umar Ata Bandial, the chief justice who was a judge on the panel which delivered the verdict, ruled that disqualification handed down under the aforementioned provision is “permanent” — for life.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is hinting at his return since early August. The smooth return of Ishaq Dar, a Sharif family member and a proclaimed offender in a mega graft case until last week, led many to believe Sharif will follow suit.
His party is also considering an amendment in Article 62 (1)(f) to ease the process.
ARTICLE 62 AMENDMENT BILL
A day earlier, a bill to amend Article 62 of the Constitution was tabled in the Senate. The bill moved by PPP Senator Palwasha Khan recommends deleting the words Sadiq and Ameen and replacing them with the words Rastgo and Wafa Shaar.
The bill states: “In the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, in Article 62, in clause (1), in sub-clause (f), for the expression ‘honest and ameen’, the expression ‘veracious and devoted’ shall be inserted.”
According to Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution, a person may be qualified or elected as a member of the parliament provided he has adequate knowledge of Islam and is essentially ‘sadiq and ameen’ (honest and righteous).
“In literal terms, Sadiq is a qualitative metaphor used for one who has never spoken a lie. Ameen refers to one who has never breached anyone’s trust. These two words are used in Arabic as laqab for Holy Prophet (PBUH) for his unprecedented truthfulness and honesty which no man can practice and reach the level.”
It further states that Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution imposes Islamic ethical conditions for eligibility of a candidate for election to the parliament but these are made applicable to both Muslim as well as non-Muslim candidates for parliamentary membership.
In this regard, it added, the current code of conduct of the members of United Kingdom can be a good example as the universality of standards of honorable conduct in public life in the contemporary democratic world, irrespective of faith or culture, makes it plausible for all candidates for the parliament including non-Muslim candidates to be eligible.
Ironically, the removal of articles 62 and 63 from the Constitution during the drafting of 18th Amendment was opposed by none other than the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) itself.