SC Reserves Verdict In Disqualification Span Case

ISLAMABAD -  The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved judgment in the case to determine whether disqualification under Article 62(1)(f) of Constitution is permanent or temporary.

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A five-judge larger bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, heard the review petitions of the former legislators who are affected by this constitutional clause.

Attorney-General for Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf contended that till such time the parliament make changes in this provision the declaration for disqualification under it will remain effective continuously [forever].

However, it is not the function of this court to say whether the disqualification in 62(1)(f) is for life or give some other timeframe for it, he said.

Justice Umar Atta Bandial remarked that it had been proposed that there should be some proportionality in the sentence awarded under Article 62(1)(f). He asked under what criteria they could reduce the sentence.

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The chief justice asked from the AGP whether he liked to say that there was omission in the Article 62, which was deliberate and the disqualification [under existing shape of the law] would operate for life as the act and conduct were serious and grave.

The CJP inquired how the court could operate when it was described by the parliament that the disqualification should continue unless there was another declaration against the earlier one.

At the conclusion of his arguments, the chief justice inquired from the AGP that was he going anywhere?

The attorney general replied that he had to go to London and then other parts of Europe.

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Upon that, the chief justice said: “You are not going anywhere unless we permit you as there are so many pressing issues that require your presence.”

The AGP replied: “I will certainly not go anywhere [if the court wishes so].”

The chief justice then reserved the judgment in the case.

The court in this case had issued notice to all the persons, including former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and PTI ex-secretary general Jehangir Tareen, who are affected by disqualification under Article 62(1)(f).

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Tareen and a number of other lawmakers had filed the applications against their disqualification. However, Nawaz opted not to become party to the case saying his representation could negatively affect the case of others.

He also said in his reply, “If I were to be a party to the original proceedings, I would have requested Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh and Justice Ijazul Ahsan to kindly recuse themselves from the bench as they have already rendered a judgment regarding the issue of my qualification as a member of parliament.”

The court had appointed Barrister Ali Zafar and Munir A Malik as amicus curiae in this case who both adopted the stance that the entire constitution had to be read together as no particular article of the constitution lives in a vacuum, rather each article relies and builds upon other provisions of the constitution. It is the fundamental right of every citizen to contest election, they argued further.

Barrister Zafar said the parliament deliberately did not give any time in Article 62 and reposed its trust in the courts to determine the disqualification period, of at least five years i.e. a full parliamentary term.

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Munir A Malik stated that prior to 18th Amendment the period of disqualification was not time bound. “However, in 18th Amendment, the clear parliamentary intent was to militate against the wriggle of disqualification by making it time bound,” he added.

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