KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) issued notices on Monday to the attorney general, the election commission and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on a petition against Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz’s (PML-N) central executive committee meeting. The supposed agenda of the meeting is to introduce Nawaz as a candidate for presidency.
A single bench, headed by Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, also directed them to file their comments by October 5.
The notices came against a lawsuit filed collectively by Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Senators Farogh A Naseem and Nighat Mirza, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) senior vice-president Syed Ali Haider Zaidi, FIXIT chairperson Muhammad Alamgir Khan and two lawyers Abdul Jabbar Qureshi and Muhammad Akbar Khan.
The defendants included the federal law secretary, Election Commission of Pakistan, the PML-N secretary and Nawaz himself.
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Farogh recalling past events said that a five member Supreme Court (SC) bench had unanimously disqualified Nawaz on the basis of a joint investigation team’s report regarding his children and their offshore companies.
He added that the apex court had disqualified the defendant under articles 62 (1) (f) of the Constitution, read with section 99 (f) of the Representation of the Peoples Act, 1976. As article 62 (1) (f) does not specify a time period of disqualification, the SC declared him disqualified for life.
Farogh argued that SC’s judgment is final and it included Nawaz being disqualified as a parliamentarian.
The court was told that at that time the defendant was PML-N’s president but was also removed from the position owing to the proviso to article five of the Political Parties Order, 2002, which states that he could not remain an office bearer or head of any party after his disqualification.
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The plaintiffs alleged that in order to purportedly undo the effect of the first proviso to Section five of the 2002 order, the ruling PML-N introduced a bill to the Elections Act, 2017. As part of the bill introduced in the senate, all the election laws and the 2002 order were proposed to be repealed and the Elections Act, 2017 was to be implemented in its place.
The plaintiffs alleged that after the repeal of the 2002 order, section 203 of the proposed Elections Act, 2017 under articles 62 and 63, would allow a person disqualified from the parliament to be the head of a political party. They further alleged that the proposed amendments were also mala fide and unconstitutional as they were only being introduced to accommodate Nawaz.
They pointed out that the bill was surreptitiously voted upon in the senate on September 22, along with the proposed amendments to Section 203 by some other political parties.
However, the proceedings of the senate were questionable as three different sessions were held on the same day, under three different chairs. Owing to the sessions being held on Friday, many senators did not know if senate proceedings will continue after the prayer break, and they did not show up for the second and third sessions.
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The bill was not voted upon till the third session, during which many of the senators were missing, as they thought that such an important bill will not be passed without a proper discussion.
It was alleged that the federal government took advantage of the chaos on Friday and only held a voting on the bill as many senators were not in attendance.
Farogh argued that even if section 203 of the act is passed by the national assembly and it becomes the law of the land it will not be able to permit a person disqualified by a court of law to become or remain a member of the parliament or to be a political party head.
The judges were told that the plaintiffs had filed a lawsuit, which is valued at Rs500 million, in representative capacity on behalf of the public, “who detest corruption and corrupt practices in the public and political life of Pakistan”.
The court was pleaded to declare that Nawaz could not be the head of an elected party or an office bearer defendant Sharif could not be elected party head or a PML-N office bearer after being disqualified by the SC under the articles 62(i)(f) of the Constitution.
It was also pleaded that in case he was elected as an office bearer or party head, his election should be declared illegal and annulled.
Alternatively, Farogh requested that the Sections 203 and 232 of the proposed Election Act, 2017 be declared unconstitutional and be rendered legally void.
Furthermore, the court was requested to declare that the act violates the law and constitution since mandatory procedures were not followed in the senate while the act was passed.