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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Lifetime disqualification : SC reserves verdict

Chief Justice Isa, during the hearing, underscored the sanctity of the "original Constitution" and expressed concern about encroachments into the country's bill of rights over the years.


On Friday, the Supreme Court (SC) concluded a hearing on petitions seeking clarity on whether a lawmaker’s disqualification period should be five years or a lifetime. Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa, anticipating a prompt resolution, remarked, “We will try to come up with a shorter order as soon as possible. Probably not today but it will be very soon God willing.”

The proceedings, led by a seven-member larger bench, including CJP Isa and Justices Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Yahya Afridi, Aminuddin Khan, Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Muhammad Ali Mazhar, and Musarrat Hilali, were broadcast live on the apex court’s website.

The disqualification issue traces back to Gen Ziaul Haq’s addition of Article 62(1)(f) to the Constitution, gaining prominence when the SC disqualified former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for life in the Panama Papers case. Last June, parliament amended the Election Act, specifying a five-year disqualification under Article 62(1)(f), adding complexity that the Supreme Court is poised to unravel.

Problems over Article 62(1)(f)

The disqualification quandary surfaced last month during an electoral dispute involving Sardar Mir Badshah Khan Qaisarani, disqualified for a fake degree. His appeal is pending before the Lahore High Court. In a prior hearing, Justice Isa regretted that constitutional amendments related to the disqualification of lawmakers under Article 62(1)(f) were imposed on parliament without proper debate, emphasizing the need to comprehend the broader historical context .Chief Justice Isa, during the hearing, underscored the sanctity of the “original Constitution” and expressed concern about encroachments into the country’s bill of rights over the years.

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Summing up, the SC has reserved its judgment on a pivotal matter with constitutional implications. The Chief Justice highlighted the urgency of preserving the original constitutional framework and expressed reservations about historical amendments affecting lawmakers’ disqualification. The decision holds significance given the backdrop of legislative changes and their potential impact on the country’s political landscape.