ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Saturday sent letters to Interior Minister Rehman Malik and Umar Cheema, correspondent of The News to assist the court in their reported assertion regarding dual citizenship of legislators asking them to provide more details.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry directed its office to send letters to Interior Minister Rehman Malik for furnishing details to substantiate his reported stand, published in The News with the headline “Many dual national MPs still in assemblies”, dated September 22, 2012, stating that a number of dual national legislators are still sitting in the assemblies and that he would produce evidence to prove the allegation, if asked.
Similarly, Umar Cheema, correspondent for The News, after the pronouncement of the short order in Constitutional Petition No. 05/2012 (Syed Mehmood Akhtar Naqvi v. Federation of Pakistan through Secretary Law & others) wrote a story, published in The News International dated September 21, 2012, under the headline “Another dual national MNA spotted hiding behind secrecy”, wherein he reported that Begum Shehnaz Sheikh, former minister of state for health and PML-Q MNA, is an Australian-Pakistani, who has been an Australian citizen for at least 16 years, knowing well that a dual national is not eligible for the position she held in the previous parliament and the present one.
The chief justice directed his office to send letters to Umar Cheema and Senator A Rahman Malik to furnish details to substantiate the stand taken by them, enabling the court to deal with all of them equally in terms of Article 25 read with Article 5 of the Constitution and to send a letter to Begum Shehnaz Sheikh through the Secretary National Assembly to confirm the information given in the newspaper.
The chief justice further observed that Interior Minister Rehman Malik had also given a statement published in an Urdu daily, stating that proceedings were conducted against only a few of the members of the assemblies whereas a large number of members have concealed their dual citizenship and he would produce a list of such members if so directed by the court or the government.
The chief justice recalled that the apex court through its short order dated September 20, 2012 decided the cases of those parliamentarians and the members of the provincial assemblies in respect of whom either the petitioner or the interveners, M/S Waheed Anjum and Tariq Asad, Advocate had furnished information, whereas no one amongst the persons named hereinabove, including Mr Umar Cheema or Senator A Rahman Malik had come forward to assist the Court.
The chief justice observed that Article 5 of the Constitution provides that loyalty to the state is the basic duty of every citizen and that obedience to the Constitution and law is the inviolable obligation of every citizen wherever he may be, and of every other person for the time being within Pakistan.
He further said that the said Article essentially is to be read with Article 25 of the Constitution, which provides that all citizens are equal before the law and are entitled to equal protection of the law.
Keeping in view these provisions, the chief justice observed that Umar Cheema, Senator A Rahman Malik, and all citizens of Pakistan are under a constitutional duty to be loyal to the State of Pakistan and be obedient to the Constitution and the law. Thus, they are required to assist the court to ensure that there is no discrimination amongst the parliamentarians and members of the provincial assemblies, who being the holders of dual citizenship under Article 63(1)(c) of the Constitution are disqualified from being elected or chosen as, and from being, members of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament).
The chief justice directed to send letters Umar Cheema and Senator A Rahman Malik to furnish details to substantiate the stand taken by them as noted hereinabove, enabling the court to deal with all of them equally in terms of Article 25 read with Article 5 of the Constitution.
The chief justice further directed that a letter also be sent to Begum Shehnaz Sheikh through Secretary, National Assembly, to confirm the information given in the newspapers referred to and sought the information on or before September 27, 2012, so that further proceedings, if need be, may be initiated on the judicial front.