ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan has set aside the lifetime disqualification of PTI Balochistan chief Yar Muhammad Rind in the fake degree case, declaring that such disqualifications must be based on oral or documentary evidences and not presumptions.
“Article 62 (1) (f) of the Constitution requires that the disqualification of an election candidate must be founded on a declaration by a court of law that such person is ‘not honest’. Any judicial declaration must necessarily be based on evidence, oral or documentary,” says a six-page verdict authored by Justice Umar Ata Bandial.
A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar and comprising Justice Bandial and Justice Ijazul Ahsan, on Thursday issued a judgement about the qualification of PTI Balochistan chief, whose nomination papers were rejected by the returning officer during the general elections 2018.
The top court also held that the element of dishonesty should be present in the candidate’s conduct which could be deducted from his overt acts that reflect deliberate false statement, cheatful involvement in the use of unfair means and dishonesty.
The judgement also notes that disqualification under Article 62 (1) (f) “is lifetime”. Lack of honesty of Rind appears to have been presumed by the tribunal and high court judgements.
The court declared that the presumption drawn by the impugned judgements was conjectural and could not be made the ground for disqualifying Rind forever from contesting for or holding an office in the constitutional legislatures of the country.
Earlier, the appellate tribunal had also upheld Rind’s ineligibility to contest elections for lacking qualification laid down under Article 62 (1) (f) of the Constitution.
The finding was based on the development during general elections 2008, in which Rind had claimed to be a holder of Sanad of Shahadatul Aalmia issued by Jamia Anwarul Alum Sukkur. However, in the next general elections 2013, Rind disclosed his educational qualification as intermediate.
Rind’s failure to disclose his Sanad of Shahadatul Aalmia was alleged by one of the opponent candidates. The Balochistan High Court also upheld his disqualification.
Justice Bandial while authoring the verdict said that the present case did not involve a fake or bogus degree as no evidence was recorded in the matter to sustain the finding against Rind.
The order said the tribunal and BHC orders did not refer to any positive evidence on record to establish either that the Sanad of Shahadatul Aalmia claimed by Rind was bogus, forged or fake or that he referred to the same knowingly and deliberately as being equivalent to a graduate or postgraduate degree.
“That omission does not constitute an admission in order to have evidentiary value. It has been repeatedly held by this court that admission should be unambiguous, unqualified and specific.”
The court further said there was neither any allegation nor any evidence to show that Rind’s Sanad was fake.
The order said there was no evidence on the record to indicate the constitutional ingredient of “not honest” in Article 62 (1) (f). There was nothing to show that Rind consciously declared his Sanad knowing that it was not equivalent to a graduate or higher degree.
Sardar Latif Khosa appeared on behalf of Rind before the apex court and presented his case.
The court had reserved the judgement in the case on September 19.