Home News Analysis PML-N can use “N” despite Nawaz Sharif’s Disqualification, says ECP

PML-N can use “N” despite Nawaz Sharif’s Disqualification, says ECP

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The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced its verdict, on Wednesday, about a case pertaining to the removal of the former premier, Nawaz Sharif’s name from the title of his political party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). The ECP has dismissed all the petitions seeking removal of the former PM’s name from the party.

The petitioners sought cancellation of the party’s registration with ECP on the pretext that a party cannot continue to work with the name of Nawaz Sharif, a person disqualified from holding public office by the court of law. The ECP has, however, rejected all the arguments presented by the petitioners.

The bench further said that on the basis of this information, collected by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), cases would be opened against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar; MNA Captain Muhammad Safdar; Maryam, Hassan and Hussain Nawaz, and the ousted premier, Nawaz Sharif.

The plea further mentioned that the SC has made it clear that a disqualified person cannot lead a political party so the ECP should de-notify the PML-N. It reads as “thereby, the ECP must de-notify PML-N until the Supreme Court’s decision of July 28, 2017, is suspended following a review appeal. Until the decision is not suspended, PML-N cannot remain enrolled at the ECP”. 

Background of the Case

According to details, an application was submitted by the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and Advocate Makhdoom Muhammad Niaz Inqilabi to the ECP requesting for the PML-N to be de-notified, arguing that a “party cannot remain registered in the name of a disqualified person”.

Read more: Panama papers: A long road to Indictment..?

The applicants also mentioned that Nawaz Sharif, despite being disqualified by the Supreme Court (SC), is using the platform of the party to engage with people. “Nawaz Sharif is,” read the application, “incessantly presiding over political gatherings from the PML-N platform”.

Nawaz Sharif Disqualified in Panamagate Scandal

The SC on July 28, 2017, disqualified Nawaz Sharif for not being honest and truthful.  The court stated that “it is hereby declared that having failed to disclose his un-withdrawn receivables, constituting assets from Capital FZE Jebel Ali, UAE in his nomination papers filed for the General Elections held in 2013 in terms of Section 12(2)(f) of the Representation of the People Act, 1976 (ROPA), and having furnished a false declaration under solemn affirmation respondent No. 1, Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif is not honest in terms of Section 99(f) of ROPA and Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 and therefore he is disqualified to be a Member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament)”.

The ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment under NAB ordinance Section 9(a)(v), which relates to owning assets disproportionate to known sources of income.

The bench further said that on the basis of this information, collected by the Joint Investigation Team (JIT), cases would be opened against Finance Minister Ishaq Dar; MNA Captain Muhammad Safdar; Maryam, Hassan and Hussain Nawaz, and the ousted premier, Nawaz Sharif.

Nawaz Sharif’s Removal as the Party Head

The SC ruled on February 21, 2018, that an individual disqualified under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution cannot head a political party.  A bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Mian Saqib Nisar gave the verdict in response to 17 petitions challenging the controversial Election Act 2017. The Act was passed to pave way for Nawaz Sharif after his disqualification in the Panamagate case.

Read more: Aftermath of the Panama verdict

It further ruled that “all steps are taken, orders passed, directions were given and documents issued” by Sharif, since his disqualification last year, will be deemed to have been nullified. The court has declared Section 203 of the Elections Act null and void, and also directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to remove Nawaz Sharif as President of the PML-N.

Indian Supreme Court Case on Disqualification

A recent decision at the Indian Supreme Court, in a landmark judgment of February 16, 2018, in Lok Prahari vs Union of India barred any convicted person to vote, participate in polls or even continue in office as a legislator or a parliamentarian. It also ordered necessary amendments in Form 26 of Rule 4A of the Conduct of Elections Rules of 1961, requiring candidates to declare on an affidavit, their’s as well as their associates’ sources of income. The critics of the judgment of the SC must read the order of the Indian SC. It particularly says: “This Court in Union of India vs Association for Democratic Reforms & Another, (2002) 5 SCC 294, opined that ‘voter speaks out or expresses by casting vote’ and such a speech is part of the fundamental right under Article 19 (1) (a) … Subsequent to the said judgment, Parliament chose to amend the Representation of People’s Act 1951 by introducing Section 33A.

read more: PML-N cannot remain in the name of a disqualified person: PAT…

Parliament provided for the disclosure of certain limited information regarding criminal antecedents of the candidate … at an election, but not of all the information as directed by this Court of the above-mentioned judgment (regarding educational qualifications, liabilities towards any public financial institutions and assets of the candidates and their dependents) … This court (in PUCL vs UOI, (2002) 4 SCC 399) held section 33B (of the Act of 1951) to be beyond the legislative competence of the Parliament. This Court recorded that Section 33A fails to ensure complete compliance with the directions issued by this Court in ADR case.”

Nawaz Sharif Arrested

The accountability court awarded an imprisonment of total 11 years to Nawaz Sharif, 7 and 1 years to Maryam Nawaz and her Husband Captain Retired Safdar, respectively, in a much-awaited decision on 7th August. The ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment under NAB ordinance Section 9(a)(v), which relates to owning assets disproportionate to known sources of income. The former PM returned to Pakistan after one week of the verdict and he was arrested along with his daughter from the Lahore airport and, later on, sent to Adyala jail.


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