ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Wednesday noted that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Faisal Vawda submitted an expired foreign passport before the Election Commission of Pakistan as proof of the renunciation of his US nationality.
A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, heard an appeal of the PTI’s former senator Faisal Vawda, against the verdicts of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), disqualifying him for life under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution.
Vawda has challenged his lifelong disqualification by the ECP and the subsequent ruling by the IHC.
Waseem Sajjad, representing the PTI leader, said that the returning officer (RO) had seen Vawda’s cancelled passport. However, Justice Ayesha Malik questioned; “The cancelled passport that you are referring [to] was [an] expired one.” “The cancelled passport was submitted to the RO in 2018, which had expired in 2015,” she added. “When you get a new passport made, the older one is stamped as cancelled,” Justice Malik added.
Justice Malik further inquired; “How can a cancelled passport be proof of renunciation of a nationality?” She noted that the passport numbers of the one on record and the one cancelled were different. “It is evident by different numbers that a new passport was issued after being long overdue,” she said.
Upon that the chief justice remarked that this matter had become “very serious”. Justice Mansoor remarked that “another of Vawda’s lies is out in the open”.
Waseem Sajjad contended that the text of the affidavit — which Vawda had submitted at the time of the filing of his nomination papers for a National Assembly constituency — elaborated that the PTI leader did not hold the passport of another country.
Justice Mansoor then stated that the mention of the “passport in the affidavit meant having the nationality of another country”.
The lawyer argued that the ECP did not have the authority to disqualify a person for life. Justice Mansoor then inquired whether the high court does have the authority to disqualify an individual for life?
On the request of Vawda’s lawyer for more time, the bench adjourned the hearing for an indefinite period.
The bench in April had rejected a plea by Vawda to suspend the ECP’s February 16 verdict regarding his lifetime disqualification. Vawda has challenged his lifelong disqualification by the ECP and the subsequent ruling by the IHC.
An ECP bench, led by Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja, had disqualified PTI’s Faisal Vawda for concealing his dual nationality with a direction to return the salary and other benefits he had received as a minister and National Assembly member within two months. He was also de-notified as a senator.
In March 2021, Vawda resigned as an MNA after being elected as a senator and his lawyer contended that a dual nationality case against the lawmaker was “not valid now”.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022