Nawaz and Tareen’s disqualification is for life, SC rules in historic verdict

ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court has announced it’s land mark judgment that the disqualification of lawmakers under Article-62(1) (f) of the Constitution would be for life time, Pak News reported.

Sharif, 67, resigned in July after the Supreme Court disqualified him from holding office over an undeclared source of income, but the veteran leader maintains his grip on the ruling (PML-N) party.Under the article 62 (1) f Nawaz Sharif was disqualified by the five member bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa in Panama Papers case on 28th February 2017.

 As Pak news published earlier, PTI leader, Jahangir Tareen was also disqualified by another bench, under the same article 62 (1) f, later in December. The bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah reserved the verdict on 14th of February.

Attorney General for Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf Ali pleaded that no duration of disqualification is mentioned in the Constitution. However, he was of the view that it is the Parliament which can determine the time duration of disqualification of a lawmaker.

 Now in a historic verdict on Friday, the Supreme Court ruled that disqualification under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution was for life. “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,” the pertinent Article reads.

Justice Umar Ata Bandial read the verdict unanimously endorsed by the five-member bench, which stated that permanent disqualification is neither arbitrary nor unjust nor unreasonable; it is ample, the bench remarked. The verdict stated, “the absence of a time limit for the ineligibility of a candidate for election in Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution is the basis for holding his incapacity to be incurable by efflux of time, the reasons recorded in our judgment reinforce that conclusion.”

The order stated that Articles 63(1)(a) and 63(1)(b) of the Constitution allowed disqualifications on account of a judicial declaration. The verdict also stated that the order will remain in effect so long as the declaratory judgment supporting the conclusion of delinquent kinds of conduct under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution remain in effect.

 Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh said in his additional notes that the court was empowered to interpret the Constitution but not amend it. “It is an equally elemental principle of interpretation of the Constitution that nothing can be added thereto, therefore, we (SC) cannot read into Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution, a period of such lack of qualification, which is not mentioned therein,” he said. He added that some counsels had expressed concern over lifetime disqualification saying this may be disproportionate and a little harsh. “Such arguments are perhaps more suitable to the floor of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) than at the bar before this Court.

Justice Azmat Saeed said “We, as stated above, can only interpret the Constitution not amend or change it,” Justice Sheikh said. “This aspect of the matter is rather ironic as several persons before us were or had been the Members of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) at some point of time and may  have passed the amendments, which now stand in their way.”

He added that none of the learned counsels, who appeared before court confronted the elephant in the room; the obvious interpretation of Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution is that lack of the qualification to a member is an effect of the declaration by a court of law.

However, Justice Sheikh added that Attorney General of Pakistan (AGP) Syed Ashtar Ausaf Ali addressed the court and in no uncertain terms stated that once declaration has been made by a Court of Law that a  person is not sagacious or righteous or non-profligate or honest and ameen, such a person is not qualified to be a member of Parliament.

“This lack of qualification is the effect of the aforesaid declaration, which is the cause and as long as the declaration by the court holds the field, the person in respect of whom such declaration has been made will continue to be deprived of the qualifications to be a
Member of Parliament.”

“The stand taken by the learned Attorney General for Pakistan is not only fair but is also in accordance with the obvious and self-evident intent of Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution. Incidentally, this Court on more than one occasions has already held that lack of qualification suffered under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution is in perpetuity,”  Justice Sheikh added.

 According to the “Pak News” no leader from both parties was present in the court room, when decison was announced. However, some PML workers stage a demonstarion outside the SC.


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