News Analysis |
The Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan summoned former premier Nawaz Sharif and former general secretary of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Jahangir Tareen on 30th January, in a notice served on Sunday. The two are ordered to appear either in person or have their counsels appear before the SC to attend proceedings of interpretation of Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution under which they’ve been disqualified and other constitutional questions.
A five-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, comprising of Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah will take up 17 cases relating to the disqualification of members on 30th January. The bench will decide whether the disqualification under Article 62(1)(f) is perpetual or temporary.
Law experts predict that SC will most likely make the disqualification temporary on the grounds of basic human rights to set a good precedent for all the future cases in the country.
Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution contain the qualifications and disqualifications for membership of the Parliament respectively. In 1985, under the leadership of General Zia ul Haq, Articles 62 and 63 were amended, five clauses were added to Article 62 and twelve clauses were added to Article 63.
The requirements of personal character and reputation, include ‘good character’, ‘adequate knowledge of Islamic teachings’, ‘sagacious, righteous and non-profligate and honest and ameen’ and non-conviction of a crime involving ‘moral turpitude’. Similarly, disqualifications were allowed on the grounds of propagating an opinion ‘prejudicial to the Ideology of Pakistan’ or being convicted of an offence involving ‘moral turpitude’.
Legal experts believe that the amendments made in the Articles were very vague and subject to very loose interpretation. In 2015, in Ishaq Khan Khakwani’s case, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa described the words ‘Sadiq and Ameen’ as obscure and impractical and also talked about the nightmares of interpretation and application they involved. He also said that as long as these articles are a part of the Constitution, the courts were obliged to enforce them.
The apex court will decide the disqualification period pertaining to the disqualification clauses on 30th January. As of now, judgments of former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry are in force who declared that while disqualification under clauses of Article 63 are temporary, disqualifications under Article 62 are permanent. The judgment will hold in the future cases unless the SC decides otherwise. The interpretation of the laws is the jurisdiction of the courts.
Political experts believe that the period of disqualification in the Article 62(1)(f) will be made temporary since this article has been a contention among political, media, judicial and public circles for the past whole year.
Political analysts believe that the fundamental rights of the people to contest in the elections and an even greater right to vote for your candidate cannot be refused on the grounds of ambiguous ideas like the ones mentioned in the Articles 62 and 63. Some legal experts believe that these articles are the infringement of the fundamental human rights of the people and should be repealed. Those who are in agreement with the Articles believe that the disqualification should not be permanent since everyone deserves a chance to correct their mistakes.
The news is being celebrated in PML-N circles since it revived the chances of Nawaz Sharif becoming the Prime Minister of Pakistan for the fourth time. Media experts believe that if the SC declares the disqualification to be temporary, it will provide a new impetus to the PML-N while heading into the 2018 elections. Some experts credit Nawaz Sharif’s rigorous anti-judiciary campaign for the change of heart by the SC regarding the period of disqualification.
Political experts believe that the period of disqualification in the Article 62(1)(f) will be made temporary since this article has been a contention among political, media, judicial and public circles for the past whole year. Law experts predict that SC will most likely make the disqualification temporary on the grounds of basic human rights to set a good precedent for all the future cases in the country.