Resuming arguments in Panamagate case in apex court on Friday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan pointed out that petitioners’ plea doesn’t justify the grounds for his client’s disqualification.
Appearing before a five-member larger bench led by the Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa Khan in the matter, Makhdoom Ali Khan said that Article 62 (1)(f) is about qualification for membership of the Parliament and Section 99 of Representation of the People Act (ROPA) 1976 is about qualification and disqualification of member of Assembly.
Makhdoom Ali Khan contended that Section 99 of the ROPA has to be read in conformity with the Article 62 (1) (f) of the Constitution, adding that the apex court cannot directly disqualify his client in the ongoing Panamagate case.
A member of the bench Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan observed that all these matters could be contested before a relevant forum when a candidate files nomination papers during election, saying after elections such objections have no value.
To which Khan responded, “I am only highlighting standards required for seeking disqualification of member of assembly,” adding that for disqualification of a member of the Parliament there must be a court declaration. Khan cited a number of judgements to substantiate his arguments that his client could not be disqualified in response to PTI plea in the matter in hand.
Responding to remarks of a member of the bench Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh that earlier the apex court had decided a number of cases regarding dual nationality holders parliamentarian under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, the Premier’s counsel said that after 18th Amendment, Article 62 (1)(f) has been added that says disqualification of a parliamentarian requires a declaration of a court.
To which, citing PML-N parliamentarian Siddique Baloch disqualification case, Justice Khosa observed that the apex court had ruled in the matter that a parliamentarian should be kept away from the Parliament who is not honest. Makhdoom Ali Khan said that in Siddique Baloch case, the apex court had accepted determination of the Election Tribunal that Baloch’s academic degree was fake so the Supreme Court ruled for by-election in the case.
Justice Khosa observed that it’s mean if there is declaration of a court then disqualification of a member of the parliament would be possible.
Khan affirmed that declaration of a court will lead to disqualification for a member of the Parliament. Makhdoom Khan also referred a petition submitted in the apex court in 2014 by the PTI leader Ishaq Khakwani seeking disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif wherein Khakwani had alleged that the Premier should be disqualified because he lied on the floor of the National Assembly.
Khakwani had alleged that Nawaz Sharif falsely stated on the floor that he had not asked the then army chief General Raheel Sharif for mediation with PTI Chairman Imran Khan and Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Dr Tahirul Qadri during the 2014 sit-ins in Islamabad. However, after hearing the Khakwani’s plea, the Supreme Court had observed that the Constitution is silent on the definition of ‘sadiq’ (truthful) and ‘ameen’ (righteous) in Article 260 of the Constitution.
Makhdoom Ali Khan pleaded that in the presence of such ruling of the apex court, his client could not be disqualified on the basis of Articles 62 and 63. Khan also referred statement of a senior legislature and lawyer SM Zafar which he delivered after 18th Amendment that it is nightmare for the nation but harvest for the lawyer. To which Justice Khosa said in a lighter tone, “Harvest will reap.”
Later, hearing of the matter was adjourned till January 16 where Prime Minister’ counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan will deliver arguments over the apex court’s jurisdiction under Article 184(3) of the Constitution. Meanwhile, counsels for Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Captain (retired) Muhammad Safdar has submitted additional documents in the court in the matter.