Pakistan SC nullifies lifetime disqualification of lawmakers

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Monday declared the lifetime disqualification of lawmakers null and void, a ruling that paved the way for former three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif to participate in the upcoming national elections slated to take place on February 8.
The SC declared that no person can be barred for his/her lifetime from running in elections if they are disqualified under Article 62 (1)(f) of the constitution, under which in 2017 Sharif was disqualifiedfor life from holding public office in the Panama Papers case.
Article 62(1)(f) sets a precondition for a member of parliament to be “sadiq and ameen (honest and righteous)”.The disqualification conundrum stems from the addition of Article 62(1)(f) to the constitution by former military ruler Gen Zia-ul-Haq.
A seven-member larger bench headed by Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justices Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Yahya Afridi, Aminuddin Khan, Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Muhammad Ali Mazhar, and Musarrat Hilali — conducted the hearings of the case, which were broadcast live on the apex court’s website.
The bench announced the verdict with a 6-1 majority as Justice Afridi disagreed with his fellow judges, backing the apex court’s previous judgment. While announcing the reserved verdict, the chief justice noted that since the election schedule was issued, it was “necessary” to release the order at the earliest.
With his main rival, former PM Imran Khan, in jail and barred from contesting the polls for five years, Sharif’s party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), is considered a frontrunner to win the election.
In 2018, the apex court had ruled that disqualification handed down under Article 62(1)(f) was supposed to be “permanent”. In June 2023, however, an amendment was brought in the Elections Act of 2017 specifying that the period of electoral disqualification will be for five years, not for life.
Sharif, however, was not an applicant in the latest case; it was filed by a politician from Dera Ghazi Khan, Badshah Khan Qaisarani, who was disqualified for producing a fake graduation degree. The verdict makes him eligible to contest polls as more than five years have elapsed since his 2017 conviction.
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