SHC gives President Alvi’ ‘last chance’ to file reply in disqualification plea

Petitioner Azmat Rehan, who had lost a decades-long civil case regarding the ownership of a salt firm to Alvia Tabligh Trust, has contended that Dr Alvi, a co-plaintiff in the suit, was not qualified to be elected as president of Pakistan since he had allegedly filed fake and forged documents in the 1977 civil case. A reply on behalf of the president would clarify if he seeks protection under Article 248 of the Constitution or adopts any other way to deal with the case.

President Alvi

News Desk |

The Sindh High Court (SHC) has directed the counsel for the President Dr Arif Alvi to file a reply in a petition challenging his candidature by June 12 while giving him ‘last chance’. SHC’s two-member bench headed by Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar directed President Alvi’s counsel Munawar Hussain to file a reply in a fortnight’s time when he sought more time.

“As a last chance, two weeks’ time is granted and no further adjournment will be granted,” the court ordered and adjourned hearing till June 12. Petitioner Azmat Rehan, who had lost a decades-long civil case regarding the ownership of a salt firm to Alvia Tabligh Trust, has contended that Dr Alvi, a co-plaintiff in the suit, was not qualified to be elected as president of Pakistan since he had allegedly filed fake and forged documents in the 1977 civil case.

Fawad Chaudhry had made the announcement on Twitter just two days before the ECP had announced that the presidential elections would take place on September 4.

Rehan had filed a petition in August 2018 before the presidential election and alleged that Dr Alvi had tampered judicial record, adding that a person who tempers judicial record can’t become president. He made the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the federal government and others as respondents.

The petitioner has contended that President Alvi had thrice changed his statement in three separate affidavits filed in the case pending since 1977. He has alleged that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader had submitted ‘incorrect’ documents and acquired ownership of 1,810 acres of land near Hawkes Bay beach in Karachi.

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Earlier in August 2014, the petitioner maintained that the high court had directed a civil court to decide the application with regard to the tampering with the documents in one month but it was still pending. Previously, Justice Mazhar had directed the office to place the record and proceedings of the 1977 Alvia trust case before the court.

Has President Got Immunity Under Article 248 Of Constitution?

According to Article 248 (protection to President, Governor, Minister, etc.) of the Constitution: the president, a governor, the prime minister, a federal minister, a minister of state, the chief minister and a provincial minister shall not be answerable to any court for the exercise of powers and performance of functions of their respective offices or for any act done or purported to be done in the exercise of those powers and performance of those functions: Provided that nothing in this clause shall be construed as restricting the right of any person to bring appropriate proceedings against the Federation or a Province.”

Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar directed President Alvi’s counsel Munawar Hussain to file a reply in a fortnight’s time when he sought more time.

The article further states: “No criminal proceedings whatsoever shall be instituted or continued against the President or a Governor in any court during his term of office.” Also, “No process for the arrest or imprisonment of the President or a Governor shall issue from any court during his term of office.”

The fourth clause which deals with the civil cases states that “No civil proceedings in which relief is claimed against the President or a Governor shall be instituted during his term of office in respect of anything done or not done by him in his personal capacity whether before or after he enters upon his office unless, at least sixty days before the proceedings are instituted, notice in writing has been delivered to him, or sent to him in the manner prescribed by law, stating the nature of the proceedings, the cause of action, the name, description and place of residence of the party by whom the proceedings are to be instituted and the relief which the party claims.”

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Since the petition was filed before the presidential election in August 2018 in connection with the case pending since 1977; the SHC has also accepted the petition for hearing and, subsequently, issued notices to the parties, it is likely that the court might go ahead with the case.

However, a reply on behalf of the president would clarify if he seeks protection under Article 248 or adopts any other way to deal with the case.

PTI nominates Dr Alvi as President of Pakistan

On August 18, 2018, PTI had confirmed the nomination of party leader Dr Arif Alvi for the post of president. The then party spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry had made the announcement on Twitter just two days before the ECP had announced that the presidential elections would take place on September 4.

Under Article 41 (4) of the Constitution of Pakistan, the election to the office of the president is to be held not earlier than 30 days before the expiry of the term of the president in office. Dr Alvi is the 13th president of Pakistan. He is in office since September 9, 2018.

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