Lahore High Court Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial on Friday suspended former finance minister and PML-N minority MPA Rana Asif Mahmood’s membership of the provincial assembly. The court is hearing a petition seeking his disqualification for having dual nationality.
The court also stopped him from participating in any meeting as a member of the PA. The suspension orders were issued after the court went through Supreme Court orders suspending membership of seven parliamentarians for the same reason. The SC orders were produced by Deputy Attorney General Naveed Inayat Malik after he was directed at the previous hearing to do so.
The CJ had summoned the record of cases where memberships were suspended either for having dual nationality or for taking an oath of a loyalty to another country.
The chief justice observed that after going through witnesses’ statements, Article 63(1)c was applicable in the case.
Giving suspension orders, he said that implementation of SC orders was his foremost duty. He also stopped Mahmood from attending Assembly sessions and meetings as an MPA.
Adjourning further hearing till October 12, the CJ gave Mahmood ‘one last chance’ to inform the court about any law that would spare him disqualification.
Earlier, Advocate Saiful Mulook, counsel for the petitioner, said that the SC had previously suspended memberships of many parliamentarians for having dual nationalities. He said that under Article 63(1)C of the Constitution a person having a dual nationality could not hold an Assembly seat.
During previous hearings, Mahmood’s counsel had said that his client was not a Canadian ‘citizen’ but a Canadian ‘national’. He had said the constitutional bar on parliamentarians did not apply in his case.
The petition was filed by Ilyas Siddique who said that Mahmood possessed an overseas identity card which was issued only to a Pakistani citizen who had secured a foreign passport. He said that the respondent was a Canadian national and sought his disqualification as an MPA.
He also said that Mahmood was a Muslim, but had been elected as an MPA in the 2008 general elections against a seat reserved for non-Muslims.
He said the respondent’s seat as a provincial finance minister was also taken back from him owing to his dual nationality. He said according to the SC orders, Mahmood was not eligible to hold Canadian nationality.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2012.