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Person disqualified to be king can’t be given freehand to be kingmaker, rules SC

Pakistan Supreme Court (SC) issued on Friday its detailed order in the Elections Act 2017 case, wherein it had ruled that a disqualified lawmaker cannot become the head of a political party.

On February 21, the apex court had issued the order on several petitions challenging the law.

According to the 51-page judgment, authored by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, the law was enacted to favour certain lawmakers who had been disqualified for violating articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution.

“To hold that a person who is disqualified to be king can nevertheless be given a freehand to operate as a kingmaker, who may despite lacking qualification and without going through the electoral process, act as a puppet master pull the strings and exercise political power vicariously would amount to making a complete mockery of the Constitution, the legislative process, the law, the government and values that we hold so dear and have consciously worked for, defended and incorporated in the Constitution,” the judgment stated further.

It is stated that after disqualification, Nawaz Sharif cannot remain head of the party.

The judgment has said further that if sections 203 and 232 of the law are read independently of the Constitution, it would be like opening the doors to control of political parties through remote control.

Moreover, the court has ruled that the law would have allowed those people to control the legislature who are otherwise unfit to be in Parliament as per the Constitution.

It said further that the court has ruled earlier that the Constitution cannot be bypassed by enacting another legislation.

The court has also ruled that the Panama Papers case revealed names of Nawaz Sharif’s children as owners of offshore companies, adding that the then-prime minister failed to satisfy the public due to his contradictory statements.

It added that Nawaz Sharif was disqualified as prime minister on the basis of the joint investigation team’s report under Article 62 (1) (f) of the Constitution.

Following Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification as prime minister in July 2017 in the Panama Papers case, the ruling party managed to amend the Constitution to allow the former premier to retain his chairmanship of the PML-N.

As a result, the Elections Act 2017 was passed by Parliament in October last year bringing Nawaz Sharif back as the party president despite his disqualification from the National Assembly.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan, Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid, MNA Jamshaid Dasti, National Party and the Pakistan People’s Party, among others, had challenged the law for allowing a disqualified parliamentarian to become a party head.

The petitions, challenging specific clauses of the Elections Act 2017, stated that Nawaz Sharif’s appointment as party president was in violation of Clause 5 of the Political Parties Order 2002 and Article 17 of the Constitution.

The apex court also ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan to denotify Nawaz Sharif as president of the PML-N.

In a swift compliance of the judgment, the ECP removed the name of Nawaz Sharif as the head of the ruling PML-N from the list of registered political parties.

The Election Commission also directed the PML-N’s acting secretary general Ahsan Iqbal to elect an acting president within seven days and conduct party elections within 45 days to elect president of the party.
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Umer Ata Bandyal and Justice Ijazul Ahsen, announced the short order.






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