ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday restored the 10-year disqualification period for the convicts sentenced by the courts in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) references under its accountability laws.

A division bench comprising Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Justice Saman Rafat Imtiaz issued stay orders while hearing the accountability watchdog’s application seeking suspension of a single bench’s verdict of limiting the disqualification to five years since the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) provides for a 10-year disqualification for a convict.

The bench issued the orders while accepting NAB’s application to suspend the single bench’s order about the disqualification of former Balochistan minister Mir FaiqJamali and restore the 10-year disqualification period for the NAB convicts to contest elections. During the hearing, the special NAB prosecutor argued that the disqualification period starts from the time the convict is released from jail.

He added that the PML-N ticker-holder Mir Faiq was awarded a 10-year disqualification. The prosecutor further said that the Supreme Court had upheld his sentence. He informed the bench that according to the NAB law, the disqualification will be for 10 years.

At that Justice Kayani said the NAB official’s arguments did not address the question raised as the “sentence is not controversial.” He asked whether the subsidiary legislation in the Constitution could be different from the interpretation given in it. To this, the prosecutor replied that the matter had been discussed in the Constitution’s Article 63 (disqualification of parliament members) in a “general” sense.

He contended that the NAB ordinance is a special law and the sentence of 10-year disqualification is present in it. The prosecutor continued that the apex court recently upheld the sentence in the Khalid Langove case. Subsequently, the IHC issued a stay order on the earlier ruling of a single bench restoring 10-year period for disqualification.

An accountability court had sentenced Jamali to 14-year imprisonment with a Rs 6 million fine over corruption charges. He was released from prison after completing his jail term in October 2013.

In July 2019, a three-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by the then Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa and comprising Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, barred Jamali from contesting elections till 2026. The case was filed by Jamali, seeking clearance to contest the elections.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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