ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) dismissed Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Faisal Vawda’s petition challenging his disqualification by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for concealing his dual nationality.
A single bench of Chief Justice Athar Minallah on Wednesday heard the petition filed by Vawda through his counsel Wasim Sajjad advocate and rejected the same after hearing the arguments of the counsel.
The IHC bench verdict noted; “The court has not been able to persuade itself that the impugned order of disqualification of Vawda by the ECP dated 09-02-2022, suffers from any legal infirmity requiring interference.” “The petition is, therefore, accordingly dismissed,” it added.
It further said that the Commission was bound to give effect to the said declarations and the ensuing consequences. “That is what it has done. The petitioner’s conduct has led to disqualification of an elected representative and, regrettably, he alone is responsible for the consequences,” maintained Justice Minallah.
The judgment said it appears from the record that instead of establishing his bonafides by producing a certificate of renunciation of citizenship, proceedings were delayed by the petitioner before the Commission.
According to the court verdict, it is indeed a settled law that when a citizen of Pakistan has acquired the citizenship of a foreign State, the latter shall not be qualified to be elected or chosen or being a member of the Parliament until and unless such legal status, i.e., being a citizen of a foreign State was obliterated or extinguished. Mere initiation of the process of relinquishment was not sufficient because disqualification would remain operative till completion and conclusion of the process.
It added that the critical date for being qualified to be a member of the Parliament was the date when the nomination papers were filed. As a corollary, the process of relinquishment of the foreign nationality should have been completed and concluded before submission of the nomination papers.
The judge noted that a person is not qualified to be elected or chosen as a member of the Parliament if he or she, as the case may be, falls within the mischief of Article 62(1) (f) of the Constitution. He mentioned that the august Supreme Court in the case reported as “Samiullah Baloch and others v. Abdul Karim Nousherwani and others” (PLD 2018 SC 405) has held that ‘when a declaration made by a court of law against a candidate for election warrants a conclusion of his misrepresentation, dishonesty, breach of trust, fraud, cheating, lack of fiduciary duty, conflict of interest, dishonest misappropriation, etc., derived from a verdict, then the consequent incapacity or disqualification is that of a permanent nature”.
Justice Minallah continued that the lack of qualification suffered under Article 62(1) (f) of the Constitution has been held to be in perpetuity. The disqualification is; therefore, for life.
He pointed that it is obvious from the record and the events described in the impugned order of the ECP dated 09-02-2022, that the conduct of the petitioner remained contumacious over a long period of time. He kept delaying the proceedings before this Court, as well as, the Commission. He refused to submit a renunciation certificate issued by a competent authority of the foreign State.
He further said that the onus to establish his bonafides by producing a certificate of renunciation of his foreign citizenship issued by a competent authority was on him. In order to avoid the quo warrant to proceedings, which were pending before this Court, he resigned as member of the Parliament.
The IHC CJ maintained, “The probe conducted by the Commission and the petitioner’s own conduct established that he had filed a false affidavit pursuant to the judgment of the august Supreme Court in the case of Habib Akram, supra.”
The court also asked from the counsel for the petitioner that whether he could produce the certificate of renunciation of the foreign nationality issued by the competent authority of the concerned State.
The counsel stated that the delay in issuance of the certificate was inadvertent and could not be attributed to any deliberate act of the petitioner. He also stated that there was no malafide nor malice on part of the petitioner.
The IHC bench observed that the fact that on the date the affidavit was submitted along with the nomination papers, the process of renunciation of the petitioner’s foreign citizenship was not concluded nor completed stands established, rather, candidly conceded.
It added that the declaration by the august Supreme Court in the case of Habib Akram, supra was sufficient to attract the disqualification of the petitioner under Article 62, particularly 62(1)(f).
Justice Minallah also observed, “Before parting, the Court would like to observe that it is not a pleasant duty to be called upon or to refuse to examine and exercise powers of judicial review, which may lead to an elected representative being disqualified as member of the Parliament. While exercising or refusing to exercise judicial review, the courts claim no supremacy over organs that represent the people of Pakistan.”
“The Parliament is a symbol of unity of the Federation and the peoples will. It deserves utmost respect and its prestige and public confidence depends on the conduct of its members who represent the actual stake holders, i.e., the people of Pakistan. The judgment of the august Supreme Court rendered in Habib Akram case, supra and the explicit declarations made therein are binding on the Commission and this Court,” said the IHC chief justice.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022