ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday in its landmark judgment ruled that disqualification of a lawmaker under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution would be for lifetime.
Article 62(1)(f), which sets the precondition for a member of parliament to be “sadiq and ameen” (honest and righteous), is the same provision under which former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was disqualified by a five-judge SC bench on July 28, 2017, in the Panama Papers case. Likewise, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Jahangir Tareen was disqualified on Dec 15 last year by a separate bench of the apex court under the same provision.
Following the verdict, both Sharif and Tareen have been deemed ineligible to hold public office till the courts’ respective declarations against them hold.
Justice Umar Ata Bandyal read out the five-member bench led by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar’s 60 pages verdict in the cases involving interpretation / determination of the question of temporary or permanent bar to contest elections.
The judmen stated that “a person shall not be qualified to be elected or chosen as a member of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) unless he is sagacious, righteous and non-profligate, honest and ameen, there being no declaration to the contrary by a court of law,” reads Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution of Pakistan”.
The five-member bench unanimously observed that such a restriction would be fair in a democratic set up.
“The disqualification will hold as long as the declaratory judgment supporting the conclusion of one of the delinquent kinds of conduct under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution remains in effect”, read the judgment.
“The absence of a time limit for the ineligibility of a candidate for election in Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution is the basis for holding his incapacity to be incurable by efflux of time, the reasons recorded in our judgment reinforce that conclusion” verdict added.
“Some of the counsels expressed concern over lifetime disqualification and worry that this may be disproportionate and a little harsh, however such arguments are perhaps more suitable to the floor of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) than at the bar before this Court, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed said in his additional note.
“It is an equally elemental principle of interpretation of the Constitution that nothing can be added thereto, therefore, we (SC) cannot read into Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution, a period of such lack of qualification, which is not mentioned therein,”.
He said that the Constitution had empowered this court to interpret the Constitution or law but not to amend it.
“This aspect of the matter is rather ironic as several persons before us were or had been the Members of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) at some point of time and may have passed the amendments, which now stand in their way.” judgment stated.
The bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar reserved the judgment on February 14 after hearing the litigants, leading counsels, and amicus curiae in the case to determine whether a lawmaker disqualified under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution is disqualified from becoming a member of the parliament for life or temporarily. NNI/Agencies