Nawaz ‘distances’ himself from case

* Ousted PM tells court no perpetual disqualification can be imposed on someone by interpreting Article 62 of the constitution

ISLAMABAD: Distancing himself from a case wherein duration of disqualification of a lawmaker, who is disqualified under Article 62 (1)(f) of the constitution, is being determined, ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif informed the Supreme Court on Tuesday that he will not be a party to the case.

The former premier submitted his reply through advocate-on-record Azam Nazeer Tarar. On last hearing of the case held on January 31, the counsel for the disqualified premier had sought time to consult the party leadership whether he should become party in the case or not.

The court had accepted the request and adjourned the hearing till Feb 7. In his reply, Nawaz Sharif apprised the court that he deliberated with party leadership over the matter and decided not to become party to the case which has been initiated on the request of many other aggrieved parties having stakes in the issue.

“My joining of the proceedings at this juncture before this bench may prejudice the cases of other aggrieved parties,” he former premier stated in his reply.

He stated that had he been party to the original proceedings, he would have requested Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, who are part of the bench, to recuse themselves from the bench as they have already rendered a judgment over the issue of my qualification as a member of parliament and have expressed their opinion about my person on a number of occasions therefore it would be unfortunate if they were to again decide on the issues keeping my person in their view.

Nawaz Sharif stated that in his understanding ‘to take part in the election process is a fundamental right, thus no perpetual disqualification can be imposed on someone by interpreting Article 62 of the constitution’.

He further stated that a time limit could have been provided by the parliament but since it has not been done so, the issue of qualification under Article 62 is confined only to the election in question. The reply further states, “I being a strong proponent of democracy believe that it is the right of people of Pakistan to participate in the process of election and to reject or elect candidate of their choice. They enjoy an inalienable right to elect their representatives through a true democratic process and not be given the list of selective people through the process of elimination”.

Article 62(1)(f), which sets the precondition for a member of parliament to be “sadiq and ameen” (honest and righteous), had provided the grounds for the disqualification of the former premier from holding public office in the July 28, 2017, judgement on the Panama Papers case handed down by the apex court.

A five-member larger bench of the Supreme Court comprising Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, will resume hearing in the case today (Wednesday). The pleas have been filed by several parliamentarians who were disqualified for having fake degrees. The court has to interpret Article 62(1)(f) of the constitution to determine the period of disqualification for the disqualified lawmakers.

Published in Daily Times, February 7th 2018.