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ISLAMABAD: Former senator Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Faisal Vawda on Monday filed a written submission regarding his disqualification by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and its verdict upheld by the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, will resume hearing on the PTI leader’s appeal today (Tuesday).

Waseem Sajjad, who filed the written submission, contended that it is visible from the court record that the Election Commission is not a court of law. It also does not have power to disqualify a legislator on the basis of Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution.

He further submitted that according to Section 8(c) of the Election Act, 2017, the ECP cannot de-seat a member of the Parliament, adding the competent forum to disqualify a public office holder is the Election Tribunal and not the Commission.

He argued that the ECP is not vested with the power and jurisdiction of court under Article 218 of the Constitution read with Section 8 of the Election Act 2017 to disqualify a lawmaker under Article 62(1)(f) of Constitution. He further submitted that the jurisdiction of the ECP that is vested under Section 9 of the Act 2017 is a transitory power in correcting an action in the matter concerning the election process. He said the sunset clause (Elections (Third Amendment) Ordinance 2021) made it binding that the notification of the returned candidate need to be issued within 60 days, adding his client was elected on July 25, 2018.

Waseem Sajjad submitted on the basis of a false affidavit to disqualify a parliamentarian it is mandatory that he should be tried by a court of law. In a trial on the false affidavit various reasons need to be looked at. The judgments of the Supreme Court have been cited in the written submission.

The apex court on March 1 had turned down Faisal Vawda’s plea to suspend the ECP’s verdict on his lifelong disqualification under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution.

The court made it clear that it would consider the question whether the ECP has power to disqualify an elected public lawmaker for life without having jurisdiction. However, Justice Bandial told the counsel that they have observed his client’s conduct as due to him the IHC and the ECP orders were delayed.

The ECP had disqualified Vawda for submitting a false affidavit regarding dual citizenship along with his nomination paper for contesting the National Assembly election in July 2018. The Commission also directed Vawda to return the salary and other benefits he had received as an MNA within two months. It also withdrew the notification declaring the PTI leader’s victory on a Senate seat in polls held in March 2021.

It is also the stance of Vawda that the High Court has no power to confer the ECP constitutional jurisdiction, which is entrusted to either the Election Tribunal under Article 225 or the High Court under Article 199 of the Constitution, while in the instant matter neither jurisdiction was exercised.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


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