ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan on Monday resumed his arguments in the Panamagate case hearing.
A five-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC) headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa is hearing the case.
Justice Khosa enquired how long the PM’s counsel would take to wrap up his arguments, to which Makhdoom Ali Khan replied he would try to conclude his arguments regarding Articles 62 and 63 today.
He added that he would also be talking about the PM’s speeches, Maryam Nawaz’s status as a dependent and the matter of her alleged ownership of the family’s London properties.
Makhdoom Ali Khan argued that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech delivered in the National Assembly last year following the Panama leaks has no discrepancies or misstatements, and that even if he had, the country’s premier has immunity from prosecution.
Khan also maintained that Indian courts have previously overlooked clauses, such as the ‘Sadiq’ and ‘Ameen’ clauses, in similar cases.
Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh asked the lawyer if Indian law also contained Article 62, to which the PM’s counsel replied that the words ‘Sadiq’ and ‘Ameen’ exist in the Indian constitution as well.
The court also remarked that if Article 66 (which pertains to freedom of speech within the National Assembly) is part of the Constitution, so is Article 62 (which deals with the morals and character of members of the Parliament).
Justice Khosa commented that the parliamentary speech is only a part of the additional documents and the evidence. He added that the fate of the case will be determined on the basis of all evidence provided to the court.
Makhdoom Ali Khan argued that in all previous cases, the court’s decision to disqualify the prime minister came only after sufficient evidence was provided to the court.
He cited the example of the disqualification case against ex-PM Yousaf Raza Gilani, arguing that the verdict came in light of sufficient evidence.
Sharif’s counsel spent the bulk of the first half of the hearing citing previous cases heard by the Supreme Court.
The court remarked that the previous verdicts given in dual nationality cases, cited by the PM’s counsel, also prove that the SC has jurisdiction over disqualification cases.
Mentioning Article 184-3 of the Constitution, the judges maintained that disqualification cases can be heard by the SC.
The PM’s counsel, citing a number of provisions from the Representation of People Act 1976, contended that these provisions needed to be read in conformity with Article 62(1-f) of the Constitution, which makes it clear that an inquiry like this cannot be conducted by invoking extraordinary jurisdiction by the apex court under Article 184(3).
At this, Justice Ahsan observed the counsel wanted to assert that a court of law should make a proper determination before disqualifying a member.
Referring to earlier disqualifications by the Supreme Court on account of dual nationality, the counsel highlighted that such decisions were made because Article 63 (1 c) of the constitution clearly stated that a member will stand disqualified and cease to be a citizen of Pakistan if he acquired the citizenship of a foreign state.
Moreover, he added, former chief justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani had also held as a high court judge that an individual who holds dual nationality cannot become a member of the parliament.
Makhdoom Ali Khan had also argued on Friday that the 18th Amendment had raised the threshold, or the standards, for disqualification of parliamentarians by inserting a condition that unless there is a declaration by a court of law, an elected member will not lose his seat for not being sagacious, righteous, non-profligate, honest and Ameen.