The unending debate over disqualification clause

It has become a usual affair for politicians to seek political death for opponents by filing petitions in apex court

Mohsin Saleem Ullah October 11, 2022
The writer holds an LLM from UC Berkeley and is a practising lawyer and columnist. He can be reached at [email protected] or Twitter: @MohsinSaleemu

C hief Justice of Supreme Court Justice Umar Ata Bandial has, during the hearing of a petition, described as “draconian” the Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution that deals with disqualification of lawmakers for not being Sadiq and Ameen. The petition has been filed by the disqualified senator of PTI, Faisal Vawda, for setting aside his lifetime ban by the ECP. Vawda is not the only lawmaker affected by this law. Notable politicians such as Nawaz Sharif and Jahangir Tareen have been handed down similar sentences.

This is not the first time when a sitting Chief Justice of the top court has criticised the ‘Sadiq and Ameen’ condition introduced into the Constitution by Gen Ziaul Haq as part his Islamisation drive. Also, former chief justice Asif Saeed Khosa had, in the case of Ishaq Khakwani, described the Sadiq and Ameen clause as impracticable and dubious, owing to challenges in the interpretation and application of those provisions. It is worth mentioning that Article 62(1)(f) originally carried no mention of the length of disqualification — something that was later decided by a fivemember bench of the apex court in a unanimous ruling of Panama Papers case that defined ineligibility for life.

Following this verdict, it has become a usual affair for politicians to seek political death for their opponents by filing petitions in the apex court to enforce pre-conditions of the said article for a permanent ban from contesting elections. If the court continues to disqualify legislators by invoking the said article, barely any politician would survive in the country. Sadiq and Ameen have been the attributes of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who was acknowledged as righteous and trustworthy even amongst disbelievers. So, it sets an example for every Muslim to uplift their morals and characters, following in the footsteps of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him). Regrettably, our public servants and political office holders have, in general, failed to depict a good moral character.

The apex court judges have repeatedly urged the parliament to undo the Sadiq and Ameen clause from the Constitution so as to simplify the rules of the game, saving the precious time of the court wasted in dealing with political nature cases involving Article 62(1)(f). Now, a bill to amend the sub-clause (f) of Article 62(1) has been tabled in the Senate to replace words ‘Sadiq and Ameen’ with ‘veracious and devoted’ to protect the sanctity of those qualitative metaphors. Because no man can practise that level of truthfulness and honesty except the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him).

In democratic nations, the universal requisite qualifications for an individual to contest an election for holding a public office are quite simple and easy to follow. Besides the boilerplate provisions, an individual must be sane and a citizen of a country that makes him/her eligible for the elections in developed nations, unlike the exhaustive and extensive pre-conditions set out in Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution to be a member of parliament. Surprisingly, the Constitution is silent on the mechanism to introspect the character of a candidate before labeling his/ her character.

Although performing religious obligations can be a personal choice of an individual, others shall not be expected to follow it routinely. Why it has been made a part of the Constitution is still a question that needs contemplation and explanation from the non-religious segment of our society. Generally, in democracies, people are the ultimate arbitrators to judge individuals. Undoubtedly, the integrity and honesty of our chosen representatives are required, but they should be enforced by inculcating a healthy political culture and implementing the rule of law. When many countries have succeeded in bringing up true leadership through this practice then why can’t we? A bit more deliberation and effort could pave the way


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