Disqualified person cannot head political party: CJP
22 February, 2018
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that an individual disqualified under articles 62 and 63 of the constitution could not serve as head of a political party. The verdict announced by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, while heading a three-member Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, declared Article 17 of the Elections Act, 2017, which allowed Nawaz Sharif to regain his party’s top office after being disqualified by the apex court in the Panama Papers case, as null and void and directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to remove Nawaz Sharif’s name as president of the PML-N from its records.
The verdict also ruled that all steps taken, orders passed, directions given and documents issued by Nawaz Sharif as party head after the July 28, 2017, verdict of the apex court disqualifying him as member of the parliament will be deemed to be nullified.
The verdict read out by the CJP stated that a party’s presidency was directly related to the parliament. The verdict held that an individual who has been disqualified under articles 62 and 63 of the constitution is not eligible to sign any document needed to nominate people to the upper or lower house of parliament.
The verdict noted that the Elections Act, 2017, empowers a party head to perform multifarious functions that have direct nexus with the process of elections to the parliament and to matters relating to the affairs of political parties having parliamentary presence.
The court held and declared that provisions of sections 203 and 232 of the Elections Act, 2017, are liable to be read, construed and interpreted subject to the provisions of articles 62, 63 and 63-A of the constitution.
It has also been declared that any person who suffers from lack of qualification under Article 62 or disqualification under Article 63 of the constitution is debarred from holding the position of party head by whatever name called and prohibited from exercising any of the powers provided in Article 63-A of the constitution as ‘party head’ or any other power in the said capacity under any law, rule, regulation, statute, instrument or document of any political party.
The verdict held that such a bar and prohibition shall commence from the date of disqualification and continue till such time that the lack of qualification/disqualification of such person continues in terms of the provisions of articles 62 and 63 of the constitution.
“As a result of the above declaration, all steps taken, orders passed, directions given and documents issued by Respondent No 4 [Nawaz Sharif] as party head after his disqualification on 28.07.2017 are also declared to have never been taken, passed, given or issued in the eyes of the law. The Election Commission of Pakistan is accordingly directed to remove the name of Respondent No. 4 (Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif) as president/party head of Respondent No. 3 (PML-N) from all relevant record(s),” the verdict read.
The court concluded the hearing of the case on Wednesday after hearing Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali and announced its short order. The detailed order will be issued later.
The petitions were filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Secretary General Syed Nayyar Bukhari, Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed, PPP MNA Jamshed Dasti, Pakistan Justice Party, National Party, All Pakistan Aam Admi Party, Zulfiqar Bhutta advocate, Dawood Ghaznavi, Abdul Wadood Qureshi, Sheikh Ashanuddin, Ishtiaq Chaudhry and Gohar Nawaz Sindhu.
All these petitions were filed under Article 184 (3) of the constitution making the Federation of Pakistan as respondent.
Following the court ruling, the ECP removed Nawaz Sharif’s name as PML-N president from its records and declared the position vacant.