Justice Ijaz questions formation of SC benches

Justice Ijaz questions formation of SC benches

SC to take up lifetime disqualification issue in Jan 2024


ISLAMABAD: Justice Ijazul Ahsan has written a letter to the Registrar Supreme Court and expressed his reservations about the formation of benches in the Supreme Court.

Justice Ejaz Al-Ahsan said in the letter that it was decided in the Judges Committee that 7 judges will hear the appeal of the Military Courts decision.

According to the text of the letter, a 3-member committee meeting was held in the chamber of the Chief Justice on December 7, the committee meeting was at 4 o’clock and the agenda of the meeting was prepared an hour and a half ago. I attended the committee meeting as a member.

Earlier, The Supreme Court Monday decided to take up the issue of lifetime disqualification of lawmakers in January 2024 and referred the matter for further consideration to the judges’ committee.

The apex court took notice of contradictions regarding the duration of disqualification in the Election Act, 2017 and a Supreme Court verdict during the hearing of a petition filed by former Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) provincial lawmaker Sardar Meer Badshah Khan Qaisrani.

While issuing notices to the attorney general and provincial law officers, the apex court also ordered the notice of the case to be published in the country’s two major English newspapers.

A two-member bench comprising Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Athar Minallah heard the case.

Qaisrani had challenged his lifetime disqualification over a fake degree in 2007.

Meanwhile, the SC has said that the present case will not be used as a tool to delay elections.

During the hearing, the Panama case related to lifelong disqualification and amendments to the Election Act also came under discussion.

The top court said that three appeals pertaining to the disqualification, of national and provincial assemblies have been filed in the court in relation to the 2008 and 2018 general elections.

It noted that the petitioner was disqualified for life and was handed a two-year jail sentence over holding a fake degree — his appeal against lifetime disqualification is pending in the Lahore High Court (LHC).

“What is the federal government’s take on lifetime disqualification?” Chief Justice Qazi Faiz Isa asked the attorney general to which the latter responded: “The federal [government’s] opinion is that Section 232 is beyond the court’s verdict.”

Justice Athar Minallah said that the present case is related to the 2018 elections. “How is this a live issue now that the new elections are on the horizon?” he remarked.

The judge added that the current elections will be affected by this case.

The petitioner’s lawyer Saqib Jilani said that the current case will have an impact on the upcoming elections as well.

Chief Justice Isa asked the lawyer why Qaisrani was disqualified.

“Meer Badshah Khan Qaisrani was disqualified in 2007 based on a fake degree. But the high court allowed him to contest the 2018 elections,” the counsel replied.

Qaisrani’s counsel said his client, in the 2018 general elections, submitted nomination papers based on matriculation; but the high court allowed him to contest the elections.

The PML-N politician, the lawyer said, was disqualified under Article 62(1)(f) and could not contest the elections.

“If the Supreme Court does not decide, he will contest the next elections despite his disqualification,” the lawyer said.