Pakistan: Top Court declares lifetime disqualification of lawmakers null and void


ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC), announcing its reserved verdict on Monday, declared lifetime disqualification for lawmakers under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution null and void.

The bench hearing the case was headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa and comprised Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice Yahya Afridi, Justice Aminuddin Khan, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Justice Musarrat Hilali resumed hearing a set of petitions to determine the disqualification period of lawmakers.

Today’s decision was passed by a majority of 6:1; Justice Yahya Afridi dissented from the majority judgment.

The SC, on January 5, reserved its decision in the matter related to the re-examining of the lifetime disqualification of lawmakers under Article 62 (1) (f) of the Constitution with Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Qazi Faez Isa favouring the “original Constitution”, lamenting “encroachments” made into the country’s bill of rights over the years.

“We are disregarding the fact that why these amendments were brought into the Constitution. We are disregarding the fact that the original Constitution has a greater sanctity than amendments brought unless there are such amendments which enable to serve the people better,” Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa while heading a seven-member larger bench said.

The CJP said, “We will try to come up with a shorter order as soon as possible. Probably not today but it will be very soon God willing.”

The inconsistency between court decisions and parliamentary legislation regarding the duration of disqualification under Article 62(1)(f) has prompted the apex court to intervene and determine whether the disqualification of a lawmaker should be for a lifetime or five years stipulated in the Elections Act.

The disqualification conundrum stems from the addition of Article 62(1)(f) to the Constitution by former military ruler Gen Ziaul Haq. However, the issue gained prominence when a larger bench of the Supreme Court disqualified former prime minister Nawaz Sharif for life in the Panama Papers