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Wednesday November 30, 2022

CJP Bandial terms Article 62 (1)(f) on lifetime disqualification ‘draconian law’

ECP properly examined the facts but the question is whether the election commission has the authority to disqualify a lawmaker for life or not, remarks CJP

October 04, 2022
Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial. — Supreme Court of Pakistan website
Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial. — Supreme Court of Pakistan website

ISLAMABAD: A ray of hope emerged Tuesday for PTI leader Faisal Vawda as Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial  termed Article 62 (1)(f), which is related to the lifetime disqualification of lawmakers, a "draconian law".

Headed by CJP  Umar Ata Bandial, a three-judge bench of the apex court heard PTI leader Faisal Vawda’s appeal against his disqualification for life to hold public office.

Today’s hearing

During the proceedings, CJP  Umar Ata Bandial said, “Article 62 (1)(f) is a draconian law. We will hear the case carefully and in detail.”

Waseem Sajjad, Vawda’s counsel, told the court that his client contested general elections in 2018 and after two years of triumph, a disqualification petition was filed in the high court for submitting a false affidavit at the time of the polls.

The CJP replied that the ECP has the authority to investigate false affidavits, adding that even if the top court nullifies the ECP judgment, the facts will remain the same.

“The ECP properly examined the facts but the question is whether the election commission has the authority to disqualify a lawmaker for life or not,” remarked the top judge.

Meanwhile, the SC adjourned the hearing till October 6.

The case 

On February 9, the ECP had disqualified Vawda under Article-62 (1) (f) of the Constitution in a dual citizenship case.

In the 27-page judgment, the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) said that Faisal Vawda had submitted a false affidavit while submitting nomination papers for the 2018 elections. Following the judgment, the ECP had also de-notified him as a senator.

On February 18, the PTI leader moved the SC challenging his lifetime disqualification. Vawda filed a petition in the SC under Article 185 (3) of the Constitution for leave to appeal against the order of the Election Commission of Pakistan dated February 9 and a judgment of the Islamabad High Court dated February 16, 2022.

Filed through Barrister Waseem Sajjad, Vawda contended that the ECP order dated February 9 and the Islamabad High Court judgment dated February 16, 2022 are arbitrary and without lawful authority and of no legal effect, adding that it is also contrary to the judgements of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. He prayed to the apex court to set aside the order of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

The petitioner has questioned as to whether the Election Commission of Pakistan is a court of law for the purposes of Article 62 (1) (f) of the Constitution and whether it has jurisdiction under Article 218 (3) of the Constitution and Section 8 (c) of the Election Act 2017 to deal with and decide the matter of alleged pre-election qualification or disqualification of a returned candidate in view of the judgments of the Supreme Court reported as 2022 SCMR 42 and 2021 SCMR 1675 (Muhammad Salman case).

He submitted that the Islamabad High Court dismissed his petition without adverting to the submissions made in the context of the grounds taken earlier. He further contended that there is no discussion in the judgment on the effect of the judgments delivered in the cases of Allah Dino Bhayo, Muhammad Salman and Faisal Zaman (Civil Appeal No.159 of 2016 dated 03.02.2021).