ISLAMABAD: PTI leader Faisal Vawda has knocked at the doors of the Supreme Court, challenging the order of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), disqualifying him from holding a public office for a lifetime. Vawda on Friday filed a petition in the Supreme Court 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).
In his petition, Vawda has made the Election Commission of Pakistan, Advocate Asif Mehmood, Qadir Khan Mandokhel, Mian Muhammed Faisal and Dost Ali Jessar as respondents.
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).
Vawda submitted that the judge in his order has observed that the declaration by the Supreme Court in the case of Habib Akram (PLD 2018 SC 678) was sufficient to attract the disqualification of the petitioner under Article 62 (1) (f) of the Constitution. It is submitted with respect that in giving this observation, the judge has completely overlooked the judgments of the Supreme Court and the text of the Article, the petitioner contended, adding that Article 62 (1) (f) of the Constitution, which whenever invoked, leads to serious consequences including disqualification for life of a candidate.
The petitioner contended that it requires a declaration by a court of law in each individual case regarding the character of a person. He submitted that the observation that judgement in the Habib Akram case is a declaration of a court of law for all candidates under Article 62 (1) (f) of the Constitution and has the effect of nullifying the protection provided to a candidate by insisting on a declaration by a court of law in each case.
“The petitioner has been disqualified for life by invoking Article 62 (1) (f) of the Constitution by the Election Commission of Pakistan although it has been held repeatedly by the Supreme Court of Pakistan that the commission is not a court of law within the context of Article 62 (1) (f) of the Constitution,” Vawda submitted.
He referred to a recent judgment of the Supreme Court reported as 2022 SCMR 42 (Muhammad Sulman versus Naveed Anjum) wherein the Supreme Court has held that the ECP has no jurisdiction either under Article 218 (3) of the Constitution or under Section 9 (1) of the Election Act 2017 to deal with the matter of alleged qualification or disqualification of a returned candidate. “Thus the above judgments clearly negate the assumption of the ECP jurisdiction to disqualify the petitioner for life under Article 62 (1) (f) of the Constitution,” Vawda submitted
He contended that the commission has also misconstrued the directions of the Supreme Court given in the case of Habib Akram. He submitted that the commission has given no grounds for reasons for invoking Article 62 (1) (f) of the Constitution to disqualify him for lifetime. He recalled that the Supreme Court in the case of Syed Murad Ali Shah has held that in the absence of reasons and evidence, Article 62 (1) (f) cannot be invoked. “The observation that the conduct of the petitioner was doubtful does not satisfy the test laid down in that case, he submitted.
Vawda claimed that he did not conceal anything as he produced his cancelled US passport before the returning officer who, adding that a new ID card was issued to him by the NADRA on May 29, 2018. “In the above-mentioned circumstances, the petitioner honestly believed that he had fulfilled the requirements of the affidavit as per the requirements set out in the Habib Akram case,” he contended, adding that the commission also failed to consider that the petitioner was a US citizen by birth and did not acquire US citizenship as contemplated by Article 63 (1) (c) of the Constitution.
He prayed to the apex court to set aside the order of the Election Commission of Pakistan dated February 9, 2022 and the Islamabad High Court judgment dated February 16 as these are arbitrary and without lawful authority and of no legal effect.
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