ISLAMABAD: Disqualified PTI leader Muhammad Faisal Vawda pleaded in the Supreme Court on Monday that making of an alleged false statement before the returning officer during elections would not necessarily attract permanent disqualification under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) disqualified PTI Senator Faisal Vawda on February 9 as a lawmaker over concealment of his dual nationality at the time of contesting the National Assembly election on a Karachi seat in the 2018 general election.
“Since a specific provision exists to deal with the false statement, the general provision cannot be applied,” Vawda said in his statement submitted to the Supreme Court.
The PTI leader had contested the 2018 elections from Karachi’s NA-249 constituency.
Under Section 167 of the Election Act, 2017, making or publishing of a false statement or declaration amounts to corrupt practices, which was punishable under Section 174 of the act, the statement, moved through counsel Wasim Sajjad, emphasised.
Headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, a three-judge Supreme Court bench will take up on Tuesday the appeal moved by Vawda seeking setting aside of the Feb 9 Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) ineligibility declaration.
The petitioner claimed that he did not conceal any fact from the returning officer and even produced his US passport which had been cancelled and also punched in addition to the identity card issued by Nadra after cancellation of NICOP.
A certificate from Nadra was also presented showing that the petitioner was no longer an American citizen.
The petitioner said that he was no longer a dual citizen and this submission had been accepted by the returning officer.
The reply stated that the ECP was only vested with the power to conduct elections in a fair and just manner rather than converting itself into a court of law by exercising judicial authority.
The recording of evidence, including the right of cross-examination and right of hearing the arguments of the parties and reasoned judgement, are essential attributes of a court of law in a determination of a dispute relating to a right or liability.
The ECP does not have the power either under Article 218(3) of the Constitution or Section 8(c) of the Election Act, 2017, to decide alleged pre-election qualification or disqualification of a returned candidate.
The ECP did not have the power to disqualify any candidate under any article of the Constitution since such a power has been conferred on the Election Tribunal constituted under Article 225 of the Constitution.
“The absence of this power is also manifest from the fact that no room for appeal has been provided to the aggrieved party under section 8(c) of the act or Article 218,” the petitioner said.
He pleaded that the election act provided certain protection to the returned candidate like the petition in the election tribunal could only be filed within 45 days and that the appeal with the Supreme Court against the order of the tribunal had to be filed within a month.
The power under section 9(3) of the act can only be exercised within 60 days of the the notification and if Section 8(c) of the act was interpreted to give power to the ECP to disqualify a candidate, it means there are no limits on that power and no right to appeal for the affected party.
“Thus all other provisions would then become redundant which could not be the intent of the law and, therefore, it is quite clear that section 8(c) of the act does not give power to the ECP to disqualify a candidate,” the petitioner said.