The Supreme Court on Monday ended the “lifetime” bar on lawmakers disqualified from holding public office under Article 62(1)(f), with a majority of 6-1, announcing a verdict it had reserved last week after all arguments were completed.
Reading the short order, the CJP said the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Samiullah Baloch case could not be upheld, as no timeline was specified for the disqualification in the Constitution. As a consequence, the larger bench validated the amendments to the Elections Act, 2017, which has fixed disqualification to five years. The dissenting note by Justice Yahya Afridi said he disagreed with the majority judgment, as he felt the apex court’s ruling the Baloch case was accurate.
A seven-member larger bench—headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Qazi Faez Isa and comprising Justices Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Yahya Afridi, Aminuddin Khan, Jamal Khan Mandokhel, Muhammad Ali Mazhar, and Musarrat Hilali—had conducted the hearing, which was broadcast live on the Supreme Court’s official website.
The case pertained to contradictions arising out of Parliament amending the Election Act, 2017, fixing the period of disqualification at 5 years, against earlier rulings of the apex court fixing disqualifications of lawmakers under Article 62(1)(f) for “life.”
In the previous proceedings, the CJP had questioned the “stringent” test parliamentarians in Pakistan. “Are our politicos different from the politicians of the world?” he had questioned, observing lifetime disqualification should have some “logic” behind it. He had also observed he cannot give a declaration on a politician’s character, adding that it was unfortunate some people had made additions to the Constitution aimed at disqualifying anyone they disagreed with,