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ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda could be in ‘deep trouble’ if Islamabad High Court (IHC) decides to proceed against him in dual-nationality case, even after he steps down as Member National Assembly (MNA), for allegedly concealing facts/misrepresenting facts/false declaration, under Article 62(1)(f) - the same article cited by the Supreme Court to disqualify Nawaz Sharif and Jahangir Tareen for life from holding any public office.

Vawda has submitted his nomination to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for Senate elections, in a bid to avoid a decision against him from IHC and ECP in dual-nationality case. Related petitions against Vawda are pending at IHC and ECP seeking his disqualification under Article 62(1)(f).

Speaking to Business Recorder, Advocate Muhammad Shafique said, Supreme Court set a precedent in Panama Papers case, that disqualification under Article 62(1)(f) is for life. So, if any lawmaker is disqualified under the same Article, the disqualification would be for life; like that of Jahangir Tareen, he said.

In Vawda’s case, he said, it is entirely up to the IHC to decide whether or not to continue proceedings against him if he steps down as an MNA. “The Court may decide that since petition against Vawda sought the disqualification of the respondent as an MNA, it is no more relevant as the respondent tendered his resignation from the Lower House of the Parliament. And it is also within the authority of the Court to continue proceedings against Vawda for allegedly submitting a false affidavit in ECP regarding his nationality, a charge that merits lifetime disqualification, if proven, under Article 62(1)(f),” he said.

In addition, even if the IHC dismisses the petition in case Vawda steps down as MNA, a fresh petition can be moved against him for misrepresentation of facts/concealing facts/false declaration at the time of submission of his nomination papers ahead of general elections in 2018, the lawyer said.

Article 62(1)(f) reads, “A person shall not be qualified to be elected or chosen as a member of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) unless­ (f) he is sagacious, righteous, non-profligate, honest and ameen, there being no declaration to the contrary by a court of law…..”

On November 4, 2020, ECP submitted to IHC Vawda’s affidavit that he had submitted to the Commission, dated June 11, 2018, in which he had claimed to have given up his United States nationality in order to contest general elections that were held on July 25, 2018.

The IHC observed that the affidavit of June 11, 2018 was inconsistent with the fact that Vawda had given up his United States citizenship on June 25 the same year.

An ECP official told Business Recorder that ECP can de-notify the parliamentary membership of any lawmaker without waiting for a related reference from the speaker National Assembly/chairman Senate under Article 63(2) in case superior judiciary disqualifies him/her due to any reason and directs ECP to de-notify his/her parliamentary membership forthwith.

Article 63(2) reads, “If any question arises whether a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) has become disqualified from being a member, the speaker or, as the case may be, the chairman shall, unless he decides that no such question has arisen, refer the question to the Election Commission within 30 days and if he fails to do so within the aforesaid period it shall be deemed to have been referred to the Election Commission.”

In October 2018, Supreme Court disqualified two senators; Saadia Abbasi and Haroon Akhtar under Article 63(1)(c) for having dual-nationality and not for misrepresentation of facts under Article 62(1)(f).

Article 63(1)(c) reads, “Disqualifications for membership of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) - (1) A person shall be disqualified from being elected or chosen as, and from being, a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament), if -he ceases to be a citizen of Pakistan, or acquires the citizenship of a foreign state…”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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