Disqualifying anyone for life from parliament ‘against Islam’: Pak Chief Justice

Islamabad: Pakistan’s Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa on Thursday said that disqualifying anyone for life from Parliament is “against Islam”, as the Supreme Court adjourned the hearing until Friday in a key case that would settle the issue of lifetime disqualification of some leading politicians, including former prime ministers Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan.
The verdict will determine once and for all the controversy around the period of disqualification under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution and the Elections Act 2017.
A 2018 judgment by a five-member bench of the apex court had declared that disqualification under Article 62(1)(f) was for life but changes made in the Elections Act 2017 on June 26, 2023, by a coalition government led by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) restricted it to a five-year term only.
Chief Justice Isa, who headed a seven-member bench, said that the court was seeking “clarity” on whether the disqualification period for a lawmaker was five years or a lifetime ban under the aforementioned article which deals with the criteria to contest elections, Geo News reported.
Isa said that the solution to this matter is present in Islam.
“The Holy Quran mentions that the status of humans is very high,” he said, referring to a verse which explains that human beings are not bad but their deeds are.
“Disqualifying anyone [for life] is against Islam,” the top judge added.
The chief justice said that Article 62(1)(F) calls human beings bad but lifetime disqualification closes the door to repentance. He added that a person can be forgiven if he repents.
“How can the court close the door to repentance if God didn’t,” he said.
After hearing the arguments of the parties, the court adjourned the hearing till Friday.
Sharif, the former prime minister and also a frontrunner for the fourth term in the February 8 general elections, was disqualified in the Panama Papers case in 2017. His rival Imran Khan, who was disqualified in the Toshakhana case last year, also was hit by the same law.
However, Sharif got a kind of relief when his party-led government amended the election laws last year to limit the disqualification to five years which allowed him to file nomination papers for the upcoming elections.
The controversy was not over as his candidature has been challenged as the interpretation of Article 62 (1) (f) clashed with the changes made in the Elections Act 2017. The outcome of the hearing would decide the future for both Sharif and Khan as well as many other politicians.
The 74-year-old Sharif’s case was final until the period of disqualification was reduced. However, 71-year-old Khan’s disqualification has not attained finality and his appeal against it is still pending.
Incarcerated Khan’s nomination papers for the February 8 general elections were rejected on December 30 based on disqualification due to his conviction in the offence of “moral turpitude” in a corruption case and other reasons, a government official had reasoned.
Earlier, the issue came into the focus of the Supreme Court last month during the hearing of a petition of a politician from Dera Ghazi Khan, Badshah Khan Qaisarani, who was disqualified for producing a fake graduation degree.

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