SC to establish committee to address lifetime disqualification


ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has announced plans to form a committee to address the issue of lifetime disqualification under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution.

A three-judge committee will specifically examine whether individuals disqualified under this constitutional provision can contest elections, taking into consideration the amendments introduced in the Elections Act of 2017.

The legal conundrum stems from a 2018 Supreme Court judgment and subsequent amendments to the Elections Act, which clarified that electoral disqualification would be for a period of five years, not a lifetime.

Headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan, the three-judge committee will delve into this intricate matter. Additionally, a larger bench will be constituted to comprehensively address the issue in January 2024.

Emphasising the urgency of the matter, the Supreme Court stressed that the case should not be exploited to delay the upcoming elections scheduled for February 8, 2024. The court issued a warning that any attempts to raise concerns about election delays might result in contempt of court charges.

Seeking input from key stakeholders, the Supreme Court called upon the Attorney General for Pakistan, provincial Advocate Generals, and the Election Commission of Pakistan. A public notice was also ordered for any entity wishing to participate in the case.

The electoral disqualification issue gained prominence when a politician, Sardar M.B.K Qaisarani, was disqualified for presenting a fake degree while filing nomination papers for the 2008 and 2018 elections. The court acknowledged that the amendment had not been challenged before and raised concerns about potential confusion for Returning Officers in the upcoming elections.

Drawing attention to the inconsistency in disqualification periods for various criminal cases, the Supreme Court highlighted how the amendment in the electoral law has negated the effect of the previous court judgment.

The court expressed concerns about the conflicting nature of Section 232 of the Elections Act and past court decisions, noting that disqualification periods vary under different Articles of the Pakistani constitution, ranging from five to three and even two years.

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