ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday declared 11 parliamentarians disqualified from being members of parliament for acquiring citizenship of foreign countries and directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to de-notify the respective parliament and assembly memberships of these lawmakers.
A three-member bench of the apex court, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Jawwad S Khawaja and Justice Khilji Arif Hussain, announced the judgement of the petition seeking disqualification of dual national parliamentarians under Article 63 (1) of the Constitution read with Section 14 of the Pakistan Citizenship Act 1951.
The court ruled that Interior Minister Rehman Malik had filed a false declaration at the time of the 2008 Senate election in which he was elected and thus could no longer be considered ‘sagacious, righteous, honest and ameen’.
“For the reasons to be recorded later, we declare that Ch Zahid Iqbal, MNA, Farahnaz Ispahani, MNA, Farhat Mehmood Khan, MNA, Jamil Ahmad Malik, MNA, Muhammad Akhlaq, MPA (Punjab), Dr Muhammad Ashraf Chohan, MPA (Punjab), Nadia Gabol, MPA (Sindh), Ch Waseem Qadir, MPA (Punjab), Ch Nadeem Khadim, MPA (Punjab), Amna Buttar, MPA (Punjab), and Dr Ahmad Ali Shah, MPA (Sindh) have been disqualified from being members of the Majlis-e-Shoora (parliament) and or any provincial assembly because of their disqualification under Article 63(1)(c) of the Constitution,” the court announced in its short order.
The court also directed the parliamentarians had to submit a new declaration before the elections, which, if it turned out to be false, would make them liable to be disqualified from being elected or chosen as member parliament or a provincial assembly for making misstatements and concealing facts. The court said such an act would also be grounds for criminal proceedings contemplated under sections 193, 196, 197, 198 and 199 of the PPC.
The court also held that Interior Minister Malik had made a false declaration while filing his nomination papers before the Election Commission in 2008 and directed the Election Commission to institute legal proceedings against him as in the case of other parliamentarians. The court noted that at the time of filing of nomination papers for election to the Senate, Malik had declared that he was not subject to any of the disqualifications specified in Article 63 of the Constitution or any other law.
“Mr Rehman Malik, in view of the false declaration filed by him at the time of contesting the election to the Senate held in the year 2008, wherein he was elected, cannot be considered sagacious, righteous, honest and ‘ameen’ within the contemplation of section 99(1)(f) of the Act of 1976. Therefore, for suchpurposes Article 63(p) is to be adhered to because the disqualification incurred by him is envisaged under the law, referred to here in view of his own statement that he had renounced his citizenship of UK whereas the fact remains that such renunciation along with declaration can only be seen as having been made on 29.05.2012.”
The court directed Rehman Malik to refund all monetary benefits drawn by him up to July 11, 2012 for the period during which he occupied public office, in the same manner as directed in the case of other parliamentarians.
Similarly, the court directed the Election Commission to examine the cases of parliamentarians and the members of provincial assemblies individually, by obtaining a fresh declaration on oath from all of them that they are not disqualified under Article 63(1)(c) of the Constitution. “All the Members of the parliament/provincial assemblies noted above had made false declarations before the Election Commission while filing their nomination papers and as such appear to be guilty of corrupt practice in terms of Section 78 of Representation of Peoples Act, 1976, therefore, the Election Commission is directed to institute legal proceedings against them under section 82 of the Act read with sections 193, 196, 197, 198 and 199 PPC in accordance with law,” the short order added.
The court directed the disqualified legislators to refund all monetary benefits drawn by them for the period during which they occupied public office and had drawn their emoluments etc., from the public exchequer, including monthly remunerations, TA/DA, facilities of accommodation along with other perks are to be calculated in terms of money by the secretaries of the Senate, National Assembly and provincial assemblies accordingly. “The amount, so recovered from all of them by respective secretaries shall be deposited in the public exchequer within a period of two weeks and compliance report shall be sent to the Registrar,” says the short order.
Soon after the court verdict, Anwar Mansoor Khan, counsel for Rehman Malik, told the media that the court had separated the case of his client from that of other parliamentarians holding dual citizenship. He said the court had not disqualified Rehman Malik and he was still a member of the parliament and the incumbent Interior minister. The case of Rehman Malik has been referred to the Senate chairman, the lawyer said.
The former attorney general further said that the court had issued the order against his client on the basis of his earlier affidavit, and hence the Chairman Senate had been asked now to investigate the case of Rehman Malik. “Rehman Malik has accepted the court’s order,” Khan said.
Mumtaz Alvi adds: In light of the Supreme Court order, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) de-notified the membership of the four MNAs and seven MPAs for holding dual nationality. “Yes, we have immediately initiated the process for the implementation of the apex court’s order that includes the de-notification of the 11 lawmakers and writing to all legislators to submit fresh affidavits regarding their nationality status,” said an ECP official while talking to The News here.
In a bid to ensure the strict implementation of Article 63(1-c), ECP has already written to the Senate, the National Assembly and four assemblies as well as the ministries of interior, foreign affairs and overseas Pakistanis to provide information about legislators having dual nationalities.
A senior ECP official said that zero tolerance would be shown with regards to dual or more nationality holders. He said that some political parties had played a crucial role in blocking the draft bill to allow dual nationality holders from contesting polls.
The ANP, a key ally of the ruling PPP, had strongly resisted its senior coalition partner’s draft bill in the Senate a few weeks ago while the PML-Functional and other opposition parties had also opposed the move. Ultimately, despite being referred to the House Standing Committee, the draft bill was never taken up for deliberation.
“The PPP and MQM wanted to push the bill through parliament to save the skin of their own legislators who have ultimately been stripped of the membership of National Assembly and Sindh and Punjab Assemblies by the apex court,” said an observer.
“We appreciate political parties that have been actively supportive of the Election Commission’s initiatives and look forward to the continuation of this trend in the future,” the ECP official said.
The official said some individuals had also come forward with documentary proof against certain legislators who allegedly held dual nationality. The official hoped that when all elected representatives submitted their affidavits to the ECP within next 15 days as per the Supreme Court order, things would become clear. He said no lawmaker would dare to hide anything from the ECP now.