ISLAMABAD: A five-judge larger bench has been constituted by Chief Justice (CJ) Mian Saqib Nisar to decide if the disqualification of parliamentarians under Article 62(1)(f) is for life or is time specific.
Headed by the CJ himself, the five-member larger bench comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh and Justice Ijaz-ul-Hassan will take up 17 cases pertaining to the disqualification of legislators on January 30 to determine whether their disqualification under the article is permanent.
Kamran Murtaza, who is the counsel of some provincial legislators in the same matter, told a private media outlet that the apex court is expected to decide the question before the upcoming general elections.
According to Murtaza, a couple of hearings regarding the matter had already been conducted by former chief justice Jamali, but the matter was not taken up due to Justice Jamali’s retirement.
He further informed that several cases had been clubbed together to determine the legal question.
“I personally feel that the Supreme Court should allow parliamentarians disqualified under Article 62(1)(f) of the constitution to contest the elections and let the people decide about their future,” opined the counsel.
It is believed by legal experts that the proceedings on the matter will be noteworthy for it will decide the fate of several lawmakers disqualified under the article including the ousted prime minister and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif and the recently disqualified PTI leader Jahangir Tareen, who were disqualified for concealing their assets in nomination papers as electoral candidates.
While currently, former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s judgments are in force according to which the disqualification under the article is for life, some earlier verdicts did not envisage permanent disqualification.
During the hearing of such a case, former chief justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali had said that people could reform themselves to be qualified under the provisions at some point in time while questioning how anyone could be disqualified from participating in the elections forever on the basis of Articles 62 and 63.
According to Azam Nazeer Tarar, a member of the Pakistan Bar Council, it was the best time for the top court to decide the question once and for all. Tarar claimed that the court had issued varying judgments on the disqualification of parliamentarians on the same grounds.
The situation in cases of fake degrees was similar too, said Tarrar while adding that the court allowed Jamshaid Dasti to contest elections again, but disqualified Rizwan Gill, Samina Khawar Hayat and Amir Yar under the said article. The case of Haji Nasir Iqbal was also interesting because he was disqualified under Article 62 in 2010, but was recently allowed to contest in the elections for the post of the mayor in Gujrat because the Articles 62 and 63 were not applicable to local bodies’ representatives in Punjab, he added.