Islamabad (February 12, 2018): The Supreme Court will resume hearing the case pertaining to the duration of disqualification of elected lawmakers today.
A five-member larger bench, headed by chief justice will hear the case to determine the duration of disqualification of elected officials on violation of Article 62(1)(f) and other election laws.
Earlier on February 8, the SC Chief Justice Saqib Nisar reiterating perplex over the Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution said that it was need of the time to give meaning of the article.
The five-member larger bench headed by chief justice resumed hearing several lawmakers’ petitions to set a time-period of disqualification under the specific clause.
Noted lawyer and human rights advocate, Asma Jahangir, appeared before the bench and represented Pakistan Tehreek-Insaf’s disqualified lawmaker Rai Hasan Nawaz.
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Asma argued that for voters, the questions of eligibility and qualification do not matter, asking further who will define complex terms such as the ‘ideology of Pakistan’.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial responded that the question of ideology is not before the bench today.
When Asma claimed that Parliament is not a free and independent body, the chief justice disagreed, observing that this notion is incorrect.
On which she replied that Parliament should decide political matters and not any other institution.Asma also pleaded that Articles 62 and 63 are joined and should be considered one.
The chief justice then observed how an ambiguous article can be defined, if one considers Article 62(1)(f) unclear. Later, the chief justice accepted that the specific clause is ambiguous, and remarked that “it will be a difficult task to define it”.
Justice Ijazul Ahsan wondered during the hearing how a dishonest person can become honest after some time, adding that the standard of ‘ideal people’ should be high. To this, Asma responded that such ‘high-standard’ people can be brought from outside Pakistan as they would not be found in the country.
Justice Sajjad Ali Shah remarked that elected representatives and the common man should be of different standards.
Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed observed that the duration of disqualification should remain until the declaration [election nomination papers] remains.
Asma also argued before the bench that the maximum period of disqualification should be five years according to Article 62.Chief Justice Nisar remarked that it is possible they decide minimum and maximum sentences, adding that in such an instance the court would decide the sentence case-to-case.
The hearing was then adjourned until Monday, with the chief justice observing that they will not hear the petitioners’ counsels anymore.
The bench also summoned the attorney general at the next hearing to present his arguments after which the decision is likely to be reserved. Article 62(1)(f) reads: “A person shall not be qualified to be elected or chosen as a member of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) unless-…he is sagacious, righteous and non-profligate, honest and ameen, there being no declaration to the contrary by a court of law.”
It is pertinent to mention that four of the judges hearing the case, excluding Justice Shah, have given either observations or judgments in the Panama Papers case.