Pak SC Disqualifies former PM Nawaz Sharief & PTI Gen Secretary from holding Public Office for Life
In a historical verdict which will alter the country’s political landscape, the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan on Friday observed that former prime minister Pakistan Nawaz Sharif and former secretary general of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Jahangir Tareen are disqualified from holding public office for life.
The apex court of the country ruled that Nawaz and Tareen can never hold public office again nor contest for elections.
The five-member bench according to the country’s one of the leading newspaper ‘Express Tribune’ observed that such a restriction is fair in a democratic set up.
“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,” reads Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution of Pakistan.
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 states, “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 written order states that Articles 63(1)(a) and 63(1)(b) of the Constitution allow disqualifications on account of judicial declaration.
Marryum Aurangzeb, Minister for Broadcasting and Information, said that no allegations of corruption against the former premier has been proven in the accountability courts. “This verdict echoes that of 1999 verdict of plane hijacking case,” she said. “This verdict was pre-decided even before the trials,” she added.
PTI lawyer Chaudhry Faisal Hussain, lauding the SC verdict, said that omission in any constitutional provision could not be interpreted by any of the courts.
Female workers and activists from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have started protesting outside the SC premises. Neither PML-N or PTI leaders were present in the courtroom during the announcement. Female activists from PML-N are chanting slogans against judiciary outside court premises.
In February, the bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar reserved judgment on the case related to the determination of time duration of disqualification under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution.
During the same month, Nawaz contended before the SC that disqualification under Article 62 “is confined only to the election in question, and not perpetual”. He stated this in a written statement in the matter related to the interpretation of Article 62 (1)(f) of the Constitution.
The apex court disqualified Nawaz as the premier in the landmark judgement in Panama Papers case on July 28, 2017. The top court also disqualified the PML-N’s supremo to hold the party’s top slot on February 21 this year.
On July 28, the SC disqualified prime minister Nawaz Sharif from holding public office over failure to disclose his ‘un-withdrawn receivables, constituting assets’ in his nomination papers filed ahead of the 2013 general elections.
Interestingly, his disqualification was not made on the basis of the corruption charges levelled by the PTI after the emergence of Panama Papers. The 11.5 million documents from the Panamanian law firm, Mossak Fonesca, exposed how the affluent all over the world used shell companies and offshore tax havens to hide their wealth.
The disqualification was made on the basis of documents collected by the Joint Investigation Team, which was probing the Sharif family, through a Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) request. The documents showed that the former PM had been an employee of a Dubai-based firm, Capital FZE, and as chairman of its board on a salary.
‘Sadiq and Ameen’
On March 2, 1985, General Ziaul Haq issued The Revival of Constitution of 1973 Order (RCO), changing 67 clauses and sections of 280 articles of the Constitution. It represented the largest number of changes in a single stroke in the history of Pakistan.
The change was in response to the relative lack of success his pawns had in the elections held three days earlier on February 28.
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The purpose was to rework the Constitution to concentrate all power with the dictator.
Some of the controversially reworked language was clauses in Article 62, which now required members of parliament to meet the conditions of being Sadiq and Ameen – two Arabic terms which were never clearly defined in English, the language of the Constitution.
For years, the clause has been a favourite tool of right-wing politicians, especially those spawned by the Zia regime, to smear ‘liberal’ opponents.
On July 28, 2017, history went full circle when, based on a reading of Article 62, the Supreme Court ordered Nawaz’s disqualification from the National Assembly for ‘dishonesty’ – namely his failure to declare certain assets.
Ironically, during the drafting of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution in 2009 and 2010, the PML-N had opposed the removal of Article 62.