Ridiculing state institutions, ideology of Pakistan more serious crimes: Justice Mandokhail

Lawmaker’s disqualification will remain in place until cancelled by court: Justice Ijaz

By: News Desk
Published: 03:13 PM, 10 May, 2022
Ridiculing state institutions, ideology of Pakistan more serious crimes: Justice Mandokhail
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Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail remarked Tuesday that the violation of Article 63(1)(g) was a more serious crime, for it concerned the ridiculing of the judiciary and the army as well as the ideology of Pakistan, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

He made those remarks during the hearing of a presidential reference seeking interpretation of Article 63-A of the Constitution which concerned disqualification of lawmakers over defection.

A five-member larger bench of the Supreme Court (SC), headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, heard the presidential reference.

The bench also comprised Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Mazhar Alam and Justice Munib Akhtar.

During the hearing, the lawyer for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Babar Awan presented his arguments on behalf of party chairman Imran Khan. He argued that those who were defaulting on payment of their utility bills were also not eligible to become members of Parliament.

“If the time period is not determined, the disqualification is for life,” he contended.

At this, Justice Mandokhail asked whether the lawmaker would continue to remain disqualified if they paid their outstanding utility bills before the next election.

Justice Ahsan said that the lawmakers’ disqualification would end once the outstanding dues are paid. “Only disqualification under Article 62(1)(f) — which sets the precondition for a member of Parliament to be ‘honest and righteous’ — is life-long,” Justice Ahsan observed.

“The disqualification will remain in place until the declaration is cancelled by the court. The disqualification for the non-payment of utility bills cannot be for life,” he added.

“It is an affront to Article 63-A if a lawmaker is de-seated and then returned to Parliament within 15 days to perhaps become a minister,” he stated.

Justice Mandokhail asked the counsel to read Article 63(1)(g) of the Constitution.

“You are asking us to declare dissident lawmakers disqualified for life," he said to Babar Awan.

“It is a serious crime,” Awan replied.

“In my eyes, the violation of Article 63(1)(g) is a more serious crime. It concerns the ridiculing of the judiciary and the army as well as the ideology of Pakistan,” said Justice Mandokhail.

“How Article 63-A is related to Article 62(1)(f),” asked Justice Akhtar during the hearing.

Awan replied that Article 63-A itself disqualified dissident lawmakers for life.

“Should 26 lawmakers be allowed to abandon the party? In this way, the party with the majority will come in the minority,” he pointed out.

“You want the (interpretation of) Article 63-A to be so rigid that no lawmaker can defect,” Justice Ahsan said to Babar Awan.

“A ‘surgical strike’ was inserted in Article 63-A under the 18th Amendment to get rid of the cancer that was defection,” argued the PTI counsel.

“The 18th Amendment was unanimously passed by Parliament,” he added.

“The apex court is ‘the last hope’ and the next move is to take to the streets and stage rallies,” he stated.

“One says the judiciary should be independent while another says that it should be subservient to the Constitution. Parliament, the judiciary and the executive should all be subservient to the Constitution," Justice Mandokhail remarked.

“Only the judiciary can ensure everyone is subservient to the Constitution,” Awan said.

“The judiciary not only interprets the Constitution but also makes laws clear with its decisions,” he added.

After Babar Awan, the lawyer for the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), Azhar Siddique, began his arguments.

“The British lawmakers resign even if they are suspected of indulging in corruption worth a mere one pound,” he told the court.

“On the other hand, those disqualified by our courts for not being ‘sadiq and ameen’ are not ready to accept the verdict,” he said.

Reporter: Amanat Gishkori