The Supreme Court of Pakistan will resume today the hearing of a set of petitions seeking the disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for allegedly issuing a misstatement during a joint sitting of the Parliament.
A three-member bench of the apex court headed by acting Chief Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja and including Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmany and Justice Mushir Alam will take up the petitions filed by PTI leader Ishaq Khakwani and PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain. The petitioners requested the court to disqualify Prime Minister Sharif under Article 62-f of the Constitution, claiming he gave a false statement in the joint sitting of the Parliament over the role of the army in negotiations with Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) to end their prevailing sit-ins. The article deals with the qualifications required of a member in order to become a parliamentarian.
Ishaq Khan Khakwani through his counsel Attorney Irfan Qadir, had raised objections to Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja’s presence in the bench hearing the case.
Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, president of the Pakistan Muslim League – Quaid, had also requested the court to form a larger bench to hear the case. Both the requests were rejected by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk. The court has already delinked a similar third petition moved by Advocate Gohar Nawaz Sindhu saying it was an appeal against the Lahore High Court’s Sept 2 verdict which had rejected his plea on the grounds that the question raised by him was of a political nature.
At a previous hearing, the apex court had held that prima facie Sindhu had the locus standi to move the petition since he had come after exhausting all available options. Also on Oct 15, the Supreme Court had summoned the text of the prime minister’s August 29 speech in Parliament, saying any words uttered in the House comprised public property and should be available to the people. The court had also observed that the Constitution had no definition of ‘Sadiq’ and ‘Ameen’. On Oct 23, the court had indicated that it would like to interpret Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution, not caring whether it sent home one member or half the parliament.
The articles define parameters of qualification and disqualification of a member of parliament. But contrary to Sindhu, Advocate Irfan Qadir, representing Ishaq Khakwani and Chaudhry Shujaat, will have to establish that their petitions are maintainable and also of great public importance warranting intervention by the apex court. On Oct 31, Attorney General Salman Aslam Butt had contended that the petitions were misconceived, not justifiable, and not supported by the law. In his rejoinder to the petitions, the AG had said that the post-election disqualification of a member of parliament fell within the jurisdiction of the National Assembly speaker or Senate chairman and the Election Commission. -dawn