Pakistan’s Top Judge terms Article 62(1)(f) ‘draconian’ constitutional provision


ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice (CJ) of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial said on Tuesday that Article 62(1)(f), which holds the ultimate punishment of lifetime disqualification of lawmakers, is a ‘draconian’ constitutional provision.

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court (SC), headed by CJ Bandial, observed this while hearing a petition filed by former Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) senator Faisal Vawda, challenging his lifelong disqualification by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the subsequent ruling by the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

During the proceedings today, CJ Bandial observed that “Article 62(1)(f) is a draconian provision”, and added that “this case will be heard with utmost care”.

“Vawda had contested elections in 2018 and two years later a disqualification petition was filed in the high court for submitting a false affidavit,” argued Vawda’s lawyer Waseem Sajjad.

However, the court observed that the ECP retained the right to investigate a false affidavit.

“Even if the SC declares the lifetime disqualification orders illegal, the facts would remain the same,” remarked CJ Bandial, adding that the ECP has “properly reviewed” the case.

“The IHC has clearly stated in its judgment that Faisal Vawda had accepted dual citizenship,” argued the lawyer Farooq Hamid Naek.

“The only question, in this case, is whether or not the ECP can issue orders for lifetime disqualification,” observed CJ Bandial.

Due to time constraints, the hearing was postponed until October 6.

Article 62 Amendment Bill

A day earlier, a bill to amend Article 62 of the Constitution was presented in the Senate. The bill moved by PPP Senator Palwasha Khan recommends deleting the words Sadiq and Ameen and replacing them with the words Rastgo and Wafa Shaar.

The bill states: “In the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, in Article 62, in clause (1), in sub-clause (f), for the expression ‘honest and ameen’, the expression ‘veracious and devoted’ shall be inserted.”

According to Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution, a person may be qualified or elected as a member of the parliament provided he has adequate knowledge of Islam and is essentially ‘sadiq and ameen’ (honest and righteous).

“In literal terms, Sadiq is a qualitative metaphor used for one who has never spoken a lie. Ameen refers to one who has never breached anyone’s trust. These two words are used in Arabic as laqab for Holy Prophet (PBUH) for his unprecedented truthfulness and honesty which no man can practice and reach the level.”

It further states that Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution imposes Islamic ethical conditions for eligibility of a candidate for election to the parliament but these are made applicable to both Muslim as well as non-Muslim candidates for parliamentary membership.

In this regard, it added, the current code of conduct of the members of United Kingdom can be a good example as the universality of standards of honorable conduct in public life in the contemporary democratic world, irrespective of faith or culture, makes it plausible for all candidates for the parliament including non-Muslim candidates to be eligible.

Surprising as it may seem, it was earlier reported that the removal of articles 62 and 63 from the Constitution during the preparation of the draft of the 18th Amendment was opposed by none other than the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) itself.

However, on July 28, 2017, history went full circle when, based on a reading of Article 62, the Supreme Court ordered PML-N supremo Nawaz to be disqualified from the National Assembly for ‘dishonesty’ – namely his failure to declare certain assets.

“This bill has nothing to do with Nawaz Sharif or his disqualification; it’s my own bill and I haven’t had any consultation with the PML-N about it before tabling it in the Senate,” Senator Palwasha said while talking to The Express Tribune.

The senator added that “the bill seeks to curb the misuse of titles of Sadiq and Ameen as these are divine attributes and neither could anyone claim them for himself nor could they be awarded to someone except the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).”