The Supreme Court of Pakistan Friday nullified the lifetime disqualification of former PTI leader Faisal Vawda after he tendered an unconditional apology before the apex court.
Vawda had filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the ECP order disqualifying him from holding public office for a lifetime.
On Friday, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial heard the petition.
The chief justice remarked that the court has made it clear that the consequences of a false affidavit would be serious.
The top judge asked if he accepts his mistake so he would be disqualified for five years but if not, the hearing will continue for lifetime disqualification under Artice 62(1)(f).
Later, Faisal Vawda admitted his mistake and apologized before the apex court. Moreover, he made the announcement to resign from the Senate seat immediately.
On February 9, the ECP disqualified Vawda as lawmaker for hiding his dual nationality. It said Vawda had submitted a false undertaking during the 2018 general elections when he was elected MNA.
The PTI leader appealed the decision with the Islamabad High Court.
On February 16, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah announced the reserved verdict on Vawda’s appeal. He ruled that Vawda’s conduct became the reason for his disqualification.
The court remarked that there was no reason to interfere in the decision of the Election Commission of Pakistan. “Vawda should have proved his good faith by submitting a certificate of the renunciation of dual citizenship.”
The proceedings against Vawda began after a news report revealed that Vawda filed his nomination papers for the 2018 General Election on June 11, 2018, when he still held US nationality. His papers were approved on June 18, 2018. The federal minister had filed papers to give up his US citizenship on June 22, 2018 and he was issued a certificate on June 25. 2019. The process usually takes weeks or even months, according to The News.
A petition was filed for his disqualification under section Article 62(1)(f). The Article deems it necessary for all members of Parliament to be ‘sadiq’ and ‘ameen’. They are prohibited from concealing information about their assets.
There are similar laws but with vastly different implications for the disqualification of public office holders.
Unlike Article 62(1)(f), a disqualification under Article 63(1)(c) does not entail lifetime bar. Article 63(1)(c) of the Constitution says that “a person shall be disqualified from being elected or chosen as, and from being, a member of Parliament if he ceases to be a citizen of Pakistan or acquires the citizenship of a foreign state.”
On October 17, 2018, two PML-N leaders were disqualified by the Supreme Court for holding dual nationalities. Sadia Abbasi and Haroon Akhtar had dual citizenship when they filed their nomination papers.
But Sadia Abbasi was elected to Parliament again because she was disqualified under Article 63(1)(c) and not Article 62(1)(f).