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March 7, 2021

ECP to probe prima facie false affidavit

National

March 7, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has observed with dismay that Federal Minister Faisal Vawda deliberately delayed the challenge to his membership of the National Assembly by not filing a reply under one pretext or the other which delayed its adjudication.

Justice Aamer Farooq made this observation while disposing of the petition that had called into question Vawda’s election in 2018 for submitting an alleged false affidavit about his dual nationality. The plea met this fate because the minister had tendered his resignation as a member of the National Assembly minutes after casting his vote in the Senate polls in which he was a candidate.

The judge noted that furnishing and tendering a false affidavit has consequences under the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) as well as in light of the observations of the Supreme Court. He wrote that the IHC was informed during the course of arguments that matters relating to Vawda are pending before the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) seeking his disqualification on the basis of a false affidavit and dual nationality.

Justice Aamer Farooq wrote that prima facie Vawda’s affidavit is false. However, under Article 62(1)(f) if someone is to be held as not being sadiq and ameen, a declaration has to be made to the effect by a court of law.

Since the affidavits were tendered before the ECP, it is just and proper that the ECP probes the matter of the veracity of the affidavit furnished by Vawda on June 11, 2018. If it is found to be false, the ECP should stipulate the effect pursuant to observations made in the Supreme Court judgment, the IHC order said, adding that the outcome of making a wrong statement before the apex court is also attracted where its tendering by a candidate turns out to be false.

The judge said that the question of a false affidavit is still pertinent as was argued by the petitioner’s lawyer before the IHC. The apex court has clearly observed that filing a false affidavit shall have consequences.

The IHC further noted that the Supreme Court has observed that failure to file an affidavit before the returning officer would render the nomination papers incomplete and liable to be rejected. Moreover, it was observed that if the affidavit or any part of it is found false then it shall have consequences as mentioned in the Constitution and law. The apex court further observed that since the affidavit is required to be filed in pursuance of its orders, therefore if any false statement is made, it would also entail such a penalty as that of filing a false affidavit before the apex court.

The order said that Vawda, pursuant to the prescribed proforma, furnished an affidavit which was submitted before the ECP. The dates for the filing of nomination papers as per the ECP notification were from June 4 to June 11, 2018. “Along with the petition, a document has been appended titled ‘Certificate of Loss of Nationality of the United States’ stamped as Certificate of Loss of Nationality Approval dated June 25, 2018; meaning thereby that when the candidacy papers were filed and/or scrutinised, Vawda was US national. Hence, he had dual nationality and was disqualified to contest the elections in light of Article 63 (1)(c),” the IHC stated.

The judgment said the matter of furnishing a false affidavit by Vawda is to be probed by the ECP, since the same was submitted before it, and the ECP might pass appropriate orders to the effect.

It also said under Article 64(1) an MP, by writing under his hand addressed to the speaker, might resign his seat, which will become vacant. With respect to the affidavit, the IHC observed that the apex court has in a judgment directed that an affidavit shall be filed by all the candidates contesting the 2018 general elections.