–PML-N’s counsel Salman Akram Raja says there’s a difference between being a party head and parliamentary party leader
–Court seeks details from ECP on authority within PML-N, PTI and PPP which granted Senate tickets
ISLAMABAD: During Wednesday’s hearing of several petitions against the Elections Act 2017, in the Supreme Court (SC), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) counsel Salman Akram Raja contended that articles 19 and 17 of the Constitution give the freedom to party members to elect their leaders.
The hearing resumed before a three-member bench of the SC, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, where the PML-N’s counsel argued that leaders of various parties including Munawar Hussain Soharwardi were disqualified under APDO in 1959 but their vacuum was filled by other forces.
Raja argued that there was a difference between being the party head and parliamentary party leader, explaining that a party head could not direct a parliamentarian.
During the proceedings, the court sought details from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) of the authority within the PML-N, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan People’s Party which granted Senate tickets to their respective candidates.
Moreover, the CJP questioned how a person considered unfit to be a member of parliament could head a parliamentary party.
Moreover, the bench instructed the attorney general to submit the record of the parliamentary debate during the passage of the 14th Amendment and inform the court as to who was in power at the time.
The hearing was adjourned until February 15 when the PML-N counsel is expected to conclude his arguments.
Earlier, Mian Saqib Nisar on February 9, stated that the SC was not limiting its review of the Elections Act 2017 to deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif alone, and would take a holistic view of the legislation to ascertain its implications.
Advocate Bhutta echoed arguments presented by Awami Muslim League (AML) Chairman Sheikh Rasheed’s lawyer Barrister Farogh Naseem and Pakistan People’s Party’s counsel, Latif Khosa, in previous hearings.
He said that there was no way a person disqualified by the apex court could become a political party chief. To this, the CJP reminded him that the new law passed by parliament could allow any convicted person to assume the position of political party head.
On February 6, Naseem had made a similar argument that the Elections Act 2017 was passed only 17 days after Nawaz’s disqualification, which indicated its mala fide intent. When the CJP asked how the appointment of a disqualified person as party chief contradicts the Constitution, he had said that according to Article 63-A of the Constitution, important powers were vested in the office of party chief, including the disqualification of a legislator belonging to their party.
Khosa, in his arguments on February 7, had raised similar questions over the timing of the passage of the Elections Act 2017, terming it “suspicious”. He said that the Act negated Article 62 (1)(f) of the Constitution and the court had the authority to protect it.