Deliberating on the Elections Act 2017, which paved the way for disqualified prime minister Nawaz Sharif to regain presidency of the PML-N, the Supreme Court on Tuesday asked a petitioner how having a party chief who is not eligible to contest elections would be in contradiction with the Constitution.
Barrister Farogh Naseem, who is representing opposition MNA Sheikh Rashid, told the court that the law was passed only 17 days after Sharif’s disqualification by the Supreme Court in Panamagate case.
Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar — heading the three-member bench hearing the case — remarked that the purpose of the legislation seemed to be to reduce the effect of disqualification.
The court then asked Naseem to explain how the act was in contradiction with the Constitution.
The counsel replied that according to Article 63-A of the Constitution, important powers were vested in the office of party chief, including disqualification of a legislator belonging to their party. The party chief can also influence legislation and the election of a prime minister, Naseem argued.
He said that the act would allow someone declared untruthful and untrustworthy by the courts to influence parliamentary business.
“According to you, a party chief has considerably powers,” Justice Nisar remarked. Justice Ijazul Ahsan said that according to the counsel, the party chief would be a kingmaker of sorts and an untrustworthy and untruthful person will control Sadiq (truthful) and Ameen (trustworthy) legislators.
Naseem agreed, arguing that such a situation would be untenable as it is the people’s fundamental right to be represented by honest people.
He then began recalling that Nawaz Sharif was unable to provide a money trail in Panama Papers case, but was cut short by the CJP who said that the matter has been decided and should not be discussed further.