Court rules that a person disqualified under articles 62, 63 is ineligible to head a political party and orders PML-N to elect new president.
ISLAMABAD — Announcing its short verdict on 17 almost identical petitions against the Elections Act, 2017, which paved the way for disqualified prime minister Nawaz Sharif to regain presidency of ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday ruled that an individual disqualified under articles 62 and 63 of the constitution could not serve as head of a political party, reports Daily Times.
The verdict announced by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar, while heading a three-member Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, declared Article 17 of the Elections Act, 2017 as null and void and directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to remove Nawaz Sharif’s name as president of the PML-N from its records.
The verdict also ruled that all steps taken, orders passed, directions given and documents issued by Nawaz Sharif as party head after the July 28, 2017, verdict of the apex court disqualifying him as member of the parliament will be deemed to be nullified.
The verdict read out by the CJP stated that a party’s presidency was directly related to the parliament. The verdict held that an individual who has been disqualified under articles 62 and 63 of the constitution is not eligible to sign any document needed to nominate people to the upper or lower house of parliament.
The verdict noted that the Elections Act, 2017, empowers a party head to perform multifarious functions that have direct nexus with the process of elections to the parliament and to matters relating to the affairs of political parties having parliamentary presence.
The court held and declared that provisions of sections 203 and 232 of the Elections Act, 2017, are liable to be read, construed and interpreted subject to the provisions of articles 62, 63 and 63-A of the constitution.
It has also been declared that any person who suffers from lack of qualification under Article 62 or disqualification under Article 63 of the constitution is debarred from holding the position of party head by whatever name called and prohibited from exercising any of the powers provided in Article 63-A of the constitution as ‘party head’ or any other power in the said capacity under any law, rule, regulation, statute, instrument or document of any political party.
The verdict held that such a bar and prohibition shall commence from the date of disqualification and continue till such time that the lack of qualification/disqualification of such person continues in terms of the provisions of articles 62 and 63 of the constitution.
The court concluded the hearing of the case on Wednesday after hearing Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali and announced its short order. The detailed order will be issued later.
The petitions were filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Secretary General Syed Nayyar Bukhari, Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed, PPP MNA Jamshed Dasti, Pakistan Justice Party, National Party, All Pakistan Aam Admi Party, Zulfiqar Bhutta advocate, Dawood Ghaznavi, Abdul Wadood Qureshi, Sheikh Ashanuddin, Ishtiaq Chaudhry and Gohar Nawaz Sindhu.
Following the court ruling, the ECP removed Nawaz Sharif’s name as PML-N president from its records and declared the position vacant.
In a letter to PML-N Acting Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal, the ECP directed the party to elect an acting president in seven days and conduct party elections within 45 days to elect a permanent president.