ISLAMABAD: The political fate of the Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid is to be decided today [Wednesday] as the top court is going to unveil its much awaited reserved verdict in a case about his qualification to contest the 2013 elections.
The Supreme Court’s three-judge bench, headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and comprising Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, on March 20 reserved its verdict on an appeal of Shakeel Awan, a PML-N member who lost the 2013 elections at Rawalpindi’s NA-55 constituency against Rashid.
During the hearing on March 20, the bench gave interesting remarks on Panamagate verdict wherein former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was disqualified on account of a salary that was not withdrawn.
Justice Isa had questioned whether Panamagate verdict will be applicable on the error of any parliamentarian regarding the details of his assets in nomination papers. “Whether he will be disqualified and whether Panamagate judgment will be applied to all cases,” he had asked.
Justice Isa, who has already raised questions on Panamagate verdict during the hearing of Hudabiya case, had pointed out that the principle of strict liability has not been set in Panamagate case. The verdict did not discuss whether the assets were concealed intentionally or it was just an error.
Justice Isa had also observed that in principle, if there is an error then there is need to examine the intention, adding that if someone is not getting benefit of any error then it cannot be called as mala fide.
However, the Panamagate verdict, he had noted, said whoever will commit error in giving the details of his assets, will be ousted. He had also cited the example of US president, who does not declare the details of his income tax but there is a disqualification on the basis of simple error in Pakistan, adding that contesting the election in Pakistan has become so difficult.
Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh, who was part of Panamagate bench, had said if a parliamentarian conceals his asset then he will be disqualified. He had said it may be considered whether the error was done intentionally or unintentionally. However, Justice Isa had observed that the same thing was not discussed in Panamagate case.
Justice Sheikh had said every case has its facts as no one had admitted error in Panamagate case but in this case, error has been admitted by respondent (Sheikh Rashid). He, however, had said if the court deals Sheikh Rashid’s error strictly then he cannot be ousted.
The case involved concealment of assets by Sheikh Rashid who mentioned in his nomination papers for the 2013 general elections that he owned 983 kanals of land although he actually owned 1,081 kanals.
He had shown purchase of one kanal of land in the Bahria Gold City for over Rs10 million when the booking price of the land was over Rs48m whereas its current market price is Rs60m.