Supreme Court has begun hearing Sharif family’s review petitions against the decision of the five-member bench that disqualified Nawaz Sharif.
During the hearing on Wednesday, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa observed that the decision was unanimous even if the judges differed on reasons for disqualification. Addressing Sharif’s counsel, Justice Khosa said that his client had not challenged the decision of the two judges who favoured disqualification when the other three went ahead with formation of the JIT. This, Justice Khosa held, implied that Sharif had accepted their decision.
In the review petition, the former PM has raised objections on the definition of ‘assets’ used by the judges in the July 28 verdict. He has pleaded that the definition used by the Apex court does not exist in Black’s Laws dictionary. The petition has further said that the definition used is nowhere to be found in various versions of the Black’s Law dictionary — considered the most authentic law dictionary worldwide. This particular argument holds some substance, but whether or not the objection will be taken seriously by the honourable judges is yet to be seen.
The ruling party has been criticising the verdict and complaining of hidden conspiracies to topple democracy, but little has yet been done to provide legal defence.
Nawaz Sharif and his aides should avail this opportunity and work on clarifying the assets declaration issue during the hearings of the review petitions.
Another important aspect of the case under debate is the use of Articles 62 and 63 against the former PM. The argument against use of these articles is based on both legal and political grounds. On legal grounds, the two articles lack objective criteria for determining honesty and truthfulness of parliamentarians. This leaves too much room for subjective interpretation and bias. The political aspect is more straightforward. The two articles had been introduced by a military dictator as part of his regime’s attempts to stifle electoral democracy in the country. We can’t let the legacy of that dictator haunt our burgeoning democracy any longer. And surely, we can evolve a more objective, progressive and politically correct legal basis for assessing the conduct of our elected representatives. *
Published in Daily Times, September 14th 2017.