Islamabad, July 29: Three-time Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was unanimously disqualified by the five-judge Supreme Court bench, citing Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution. Sharif’s ouster, apart from creating a temporary political vacuum, also raises the question whether his parliamentary career came to an end. Also Read - Pakistan Remains on FATF Grey List, Given Time Till June to Implement Full Action Plan
Legal opinion, so far, is mixed over the disqualification period of Sharif. As per the clause 1, sub-clause (f) of Article 62, the one who shall be elected as a Member of Parliament should be sadiq (truthful) and ameen (honest), apart from being sagacious, righteous and non-profligate. Also Read - Pakistan MP Who is in His Late Fifties, Marries 14-Year-Old Baloch Girl; Police Launch Probe
Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, while announcing the Supreme Court order on Friday, noted that Sharif was not sadiq and ameen since he chose not to reveal his income from one of his UAE-based businesses in the 2013 election affidavit. Also Read - Govt Permits Pakistan PM Imran Khan to Use Indian Airspace For His Maiden Visit To Sri Lanka
According to Ahsan Bhoon, the vice chairman of Pakistan Bar Council, Sharif’s disqualification would last forever. While speaking to Dawn, Bhoon recalled the observation made by former Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry in the 2013 Abdul Ghafoor Lehri case, where he noted that disqualification under Article 62 would remain permanent in nature.
Bhoon’s claim was supported by former additional attorney general Tariq Khokhar, who claimed that “not being sadiq and ameen” amounted to ineligibility to contest an election for remainder of the life. ALSO READ: Nawaz Sharif Disqualification: Why Pakistan’s Political Instability Concerns India
Article 62, which critics claim is more theoretically-rooted, has been used in a number of cases by the Pakistani judiciary to oust elected members of the National Assembly.
Clause 1, sub-clause (e) of Article 62 says, “The one who gets elected to Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) should have adequate knowledge of Islamic teachings and practices obligatory duties prescribed by Islam as well as abstains from major sins.”
The law was given a more Islamist edge, expert say, under the tenure of General Zia-ul-Haq, who introduced the sub-clause (f), making it mandatory for a lawmaker to be sadiq and ameen.
Experts with nuanced position on the law claim that it gives no inferences to conclude the period of disqualification to last for the remainder of the life. Former Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali says the disqualification on the basis of Article 62(1)(f) are based on human nature, which could be reformed with time. A person who is not sadiq and ameen may later reform himself to become truthful and honest.
Tariq Mehmood, former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, recalled that a larger constitution bench of the Supreme Court was tasked to determine the period of disqualification under Article 62. The bench is yet to initiate hearing in the matter. ALSO READ: Who Will be Next PM of Pakistan – Shehbaz Sharif or Kulsoom? Announcement Likely Soon, Claim Reports
Senior advocate Raheel Kamran Shaikh reiterates the point that Article 62 does not give any inferences to conclude whether the disqualification would be perpetual or not. He further opined that the law currently gives supremacy to the Supreme Court, which could target more lawmakers in the future on grounds of not being truthful and honest.
The Parliament, he said, could also take the initiative to amend the law if the ambiguity over the period of disqualification continues.