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How a person considered to be unfit for parliament could head parliamentary party: CJP

15 February, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Wednesday observed that how a person considered to be unfit to be a member of the parliament could head a parliamentary party. The CJP was heading a three-member Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan. The bench is hearing a set of 16 almost identical petitions against the Elections Act, 2017.

The court directed the Election Commission of Pakistan to present the record of nomination papers submitted for the forthcoming Senate elections.

The court directed the attorney general to submit the record of parliamentary debates that took place during the passage of the 14th amendment in the constitution and also apprise the court as to who was in power at that time.

The court also sought reply as to who allotted the tickets for the forthcoming Senate election.

Record shows that the 14th Amendment was passed during the second tenure of Nawaz Sharif as prime minister in 1997.

In his submissions, Salman Akram Raja, counsel for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) argued that articles 17 and 19 of the constitution give freedom to the members of a political party to elect the leaders of their choice and under the provisions of these articles a disqualified lawmaker can head a political party.

The judges then noted that everything of the party is controlled by the party head and he also gives tickets to the members of his party to contest the elections.

“What would be the case if it is declared that Nawaz Sharif cannot be the head of party?” the chief justice inquired.

Later, the court adjourned the hearing till today (Thursday) directing the counsel to conclude his arguments.

On the last hearing, the chief justice had noted that the court was not examining the Elections Act, 2017 only to the extent of disqualified prime minister Nawaz Sharif, and instead it was reviewing the whole law in a broad spectrum to ascertain its entire implications.

The counsels for the petitioners have contended that a person disqualified by the apex court could not become the head of a political party under certain provisions of the constitution. They argued that the head of a political party may influence millions of voters. They have submitted that the Elections Act, 2017 was passed only 17 days after the Supreme Court had disqualified Nawaz Sharif in the Panama Papers case, which indicated that there was intent of mala fide behind it.

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