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Nawaz granted one week to present arguments in disqualification period case

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News Analysis |

The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday granted one week to Nawaz Sharif to present his arguments regarding the disqualification period under Article 61(1)(f) of the Constitution. The hearing of the case began on Tuesday but Nawaz Sharif failed to appear because of his hearing in the accountability court. Advocate Azam Nazeer Tarar appeared before the court as Sharif’s counsel. The court has taken up 17 appeals against the disqualification of lawmakers.

Advocate Tarar told the five-judge SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar and comprising of Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, that he didn’t appear before the court on Wednesday because he was appointed on Tuesday evening and asked for three days’ time to prepare the case, but the bench granted him one week to prepare the case.

Articles 62 and 63 which decide the qualification and disqualification criteria of parliamentarians has been a bone of contention among political and legal circles for many years.

Human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir appeared before the court and requested that there are some ordinary people who are affected by Article 62(1)(f) and they should be made party to the case. The court accepted her request and suggested that they should appoint a joint lawyer to represent them.

The court inquired whether a disqualified person can appear in the by-elections since they are held within 3 months of the disqualification. Tariq Mehmood, counsel for Samina Khawar Hayat who was disqualified over a fake degree case, replied that the period of disqualification is five years so they cannot contest in the by-elections.

Read more: Supreme Court once again rejects Nawaz’s appeal to get NAB references…

Munir A. Malik was appointed as the amicus curiae (friend of the court) in the case. He argued that Article 62 and 63 should not be read in a manner that violates the fundamental rights of citizens. He stated that the clauses in Article 63 were divided into two parts: past mistakes and continued mistakes. After the 18th Amendment, past mistakes result in a disqualification of only five years.

Legal experts believe the language of the Articles to be very ambiguous and their meaning dependent on interpretation. While no efforts have been inside the parliament to amend the articles, the legal battle inside the courts might prove to be decisive in ending the controversy once and for all.

Malik argued that there was no difference between Article 62 and 63, and when a court disqualified a person under Article 62, it is a declaration, not a sentence. Justice Azmat Saeed said that if the interpretation is accepted that Article 62 and 63 are the same, it will make Article 62 redundant. Malik argued that lifelong disqualification was against the fundamental rights of citizens.

Read more: Nawaz cornered: Supreme Court also rejects his petition for clubbing of…

Former premier Nawaz Sharif and former general secretary of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Jahangir Tareen were served notices on Monday to appear in the hearing of the disqualification case pertaining to Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution. The court wants to protect the rights of the people and ensure that no one has any grievances left with the judiciary through this case.

Tariq Mehmood, counsel for Samina Khawar Hayat who was disqualified over a fake degree case, replied that the period of disqualification is five years so they cannot contest in the by-elections.

The verdict of this case has the potential to change the whole political landscape of Pakistan according to media experts, because one of the disqualified persons under Article 62(1)(f) is the former premier and chief of PML-N Nawaz Sharif. He is still considered a giant among political and media sources alike, even after his disqualification. If the SC allows him to contest in the elections after a certain disqualification period, it might prove to be a game changer for PML-N in the 2018 elections.

Articles 62 and 63 which decide the qualification and disqualification criteria of parliamentarians has been a bone of contention among political and legal circles for many years. Legal experts believe the language of the Articles to be very ambiguous and their meaning dependent on interpretation. While no efforts have been inside the parliament to amend the articles, the legal battle inside the courts might prove to be decisive in ending the controversy once and for all.


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