General

Disqualified lawmakers have to prove ‘change’ in conduct: CJP

Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar observed on Thursday that a disqualified lawmaker will have to prove through his or her conduct that the dishonesty has changed to honesty.
He made the remarks as the Supreme Court resumed hearing the case pertaining to the duration of disqualification of elected lawmakers today.
A five-member larger bench, headed by the chief justice, is hearing the case to determine the time-period of disqualification of elected officials de-seated on violation of Article 62(1)(f) and other election laws.
As the proceedings began, one of the petitioners’ counsel, senior lawyer Kamran Murtaza, argued that a disqualified person can contest the by-election, adding that according to Article (62)(1)(f), disqualification is for one term.
The chief justice remarked that the bench has to determine how long will the declaration [submitted in election nomination papers] be effective for.
A petitioner’s counsel informed the bench that all political parties kept Article 62(1)(f) in 18th Amendment as they were scared of religious elements.
To this, the chief justice remarked: “You mean Parliament got scared. Parliament is supreme”.
The counsel responded that you [CJP] saw what happened in Faizabad, referring to the November 2017 protest march and sit-in by a religious group in the heart of the capital.
The heading was then adjourned until February 7.
High-profile case
Though the over dozen petitioners in the case are lawmakers disqualified for possessing fake degrees, the case has ramifications for former prime minister Nawaz Sharif as well as Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) former secretary general Jahangir Tareen — both were unseated from Parliament on violation of Article 62(1)(f).
At the last hearing on Wednesday (yesterday), the chief justice directed Nawaz’s counsel to come prepared next week.
During the proceedings, Advocate Muneer A Malik, appointed amicus curiae by the court, argued that articles 62 and 63 should be read together. He stated further that the articles have to be read in such a way that the basic rights of a lawmaker are not affected.
“Disqualification was declared time bound in the 18th Amendment,” Malik added.
After Malik completed his arguments, Tareen’s counsel Sikandar Bashir Mohmand began presenting his arguments. He contended that he does not support determining the disqualification durations on a case-to-case basis.
‘Sadiq and Ameen’
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.”
On December 15, last year, the Supreme Court had disqualified Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Jahangir Tareen for failing to declare an offshore company and a foreign property in his election nomination papers.
Similarly, then-prime minister Nawaz Sharif was disqualified on July 28, 2017 for concealing in his nomination papers the receivable income from his son’s company in UAE.