SC dresses down Canadian Tahirul Qadri
12 February, 2013
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday 'debriefed' Minhajul Quran chief Dr Tahirul Qadri, with most of the questions revolving around his Canadian citizenship and locus standi to file a petition against the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
As the three-member bench started hearing, Dr Qadri tried to shower judiciary with praises but Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry asked him to 'come to the point'.
The CJP asked the dual nationality holder petitioner that he had not explained in the petition his locus standi to approach the court against the ECP.
The court questioned that how somebody, who takes oath of allegiance to another country, could remain loyal to Pakistan. How a person who had shown allegiance to another country with pledge to physically fight for it, could file a petition, the court asked. The bench observed that if a person cannot become member of Pakistan's parliament, how could he raise questions over the functioning of parliament, which is the representative of 180 million people.
The chief justice said after acquiring the citizenship of any Commonwealth country, one shows allegiance to Queen Elizbeth. He also read aloud the text of Canadian oath: "From this day forward, I pledge my loyalty and allegiance to Canada and Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada. I promise to respect our country's rights and freedoms, to uphold our democratic values, to faithfully observe our laws and fulfil my duties and obligations as a Canadian citizen." The CJP questioned after taking this oath, how one can remain loyal to Pakistan?
The chief justice asked Qadri when did he acquire the citizenship, to which he replied: "In 1999, I applied for Canadian nationality as an international religious scholar, and after six years (in 2005) was granted citizenship." The bench inquired from Dr Qadri whether he acquired foreign nationality under any threat, to which he replied that he didn't face any threats in Pakistan.
The court asked Qadri if he had his citizenship certificate, to which Dr Qadri said he didn't have at the moment but could provide it later. To a question by CJP whether he could retain Pakistan's nationality after acquiring Canadian citizenship, Qadri said under Section 14(3) of Pakistan Citizenship Act 1951 he could hold both the nationalities.
However, when court sought attorney general's opinion over Dr Qadri's eligibility to file the petition, Irfan Qadir supported the petitioner. "Although I might not agree with the contents of Dr Qadri's petition, there is no bar on him to file the petition under Article 184(3) of the constitution," he told the court. The AG asked the court to take judicial note of it, adding in quo warranto, locus standi was not necessary.
Dr Qadri told the court that constitution allowed him to file the petition as he had approached the court as a voter, not as a parliamentarian.
The court ordered Dr Qadri to submit a concise statement today regarding his right to file a petition for the reconstitution of ECP as well as his Canadian citizenship.
The three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, is hearing a petition filed by Dr Tahirul Qadri for the reconstitution of the Election Commission of Pakistan. Qadri has filed his constitutional petition under Article 184(3) of the constitution, requesting the apex court to declare the appointment of chief election commissioner and four other members as null and void for being not in accordance with the provisions of Article 213 and 218 of the constitution.