Dual Nationality: SC suspends membership of Shehnaz Sheikh
04 October, 2012
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday suspended the membership of PML-Q MNA Begum Shehnaz Sheikh, but gave an opportunity to PPP MNA Ghulam Mujtaba Rai to explain to the apex court why it should not proceed against him for holding dual nationality.
The court also directed Interior Minister Rehman Malik to submit information, if any, regarding parliamentarians and provincial assemblies members who hold dual nationality in a sealed envelop at Registrar's Office within seven days. Malik had in press conferences on September 20 and 21 said, "If he is asked by the Supreme Court or the government, he could supply the names of the parliamentarians and members of provincial assemblies who enjoy dual citizenship."
The chief justice, taking suo motu on a news item that appeared in an English daily, had issued notices to Begum Shehnaz Sheikh for holding Australian citizenship, and Ghulam Mujtaba Rai for possessing Canadian nationality, asking them to appear before the court and explain their positions. Begum Shehnaz did not appear before the court nor appoint any counsel to represent her and to rebut the allegation that she held dual nationality. The court observed that it seemed she had nothing to say in her defence, therefore had not denied the news item to date.
Meanwhile, a lawyer appeared on behalf of Mujtaba Rai and requested some time to file a reasonable reply to the notice. Umer Cheema, a reporter at an English daily on whose report the court had taken suo motu, told the bench that he stood by his story. He said he had tried to contact Begum Shehnaz for her version but she did not respond.
Separately, the chief justice said it was very good that Rehman Malik had come to the court to assist it. The court confronted him with transcript of press talk and the clipping of news items published in Urdu papers about his claim on dual nationality holders. The CJP said the court had video recording and the clippings of the press talk.
The interior minister responded saying, "No list of parliamentarians holding dual nationality has been compiled officially," adding he had just responded to a journalist's question on dual national legislators. "The information was based on the hearsay and I can't claim its veracity," he declared.