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Disqualification Law Passed by Parliament Faces Scrutiny in Lahore High Court

LAHORE: The law prescribing a five-year disqualification for lawmakers has been challenged in the Lahore High Court (LHC).

The petitioner, Mian Shabbir, filed a plea through his lawyer, Azhar Siddique, naming the Chairman of the Senate, the Speaker of the National Assembly, and the Election Commission of Pakistan among others as respondents.

The plea argues that Parliament, through a simple majority, amended the Election Act, asserting that such legislation requires a constitutional amendment.

It contends that Parliament does not have the authority to determine the duration of lawmakers’ disqualification. The petitioner urges the court to invalidate section 232 of the Election Act.

This legal challenge comes in the wake of a significant decision by the Supreme Court of Pakistan on January 8, which declared lifetime disqualification for lawmakers under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution as ‘null and void.’

The Supreme Court ruled that parliamentarians would now be barred from holding office only for a period of five years. The verdict was announced by a seven-member larger bench, headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan and comprising several other justices.

The decision stemmed from a series of petitions seeking clarification on whether the disqualification period for lawmakers should be five years or a lifetime.

Supreme Court Of Pakistan Lifts Lifetime Disqualification For Politicians

Earlier, in a landmark decision, the Supreme Court of Pakistan, in a 6-1 majority verdict, has nullified the lifetime disqualification for politicians, announcing its ruling on a set of petitions challenging disqualification under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution.

The top court declared that politicians should not face a lifetime ban and emphasized that the right to contest elections is a fundamental one for citizens.

Disqualification

Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa, leading a seven-member bench, delivered the verdict in a live proceeding on YouTube and TV. The court highlighted its lack of authority to impose a lifetime disqualification under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution, limiting the disqualification period to five years by the Election Act.

The decision holds significant implications for several political leaders, including Nawaz Sharif and Jahangir Tareen, who were previously barred for a lifetime under Article 62(1)(f).

The amendment by the outgoing Pakistan Democratic Movement government had reduced the disqualification period to five years, sparking a legal debate that the court has now resolved.

The verdict is anticipated to pave the way for these leaders to participate in the upcoming general elections. Notably, the court sought to dispel any notion of favoritism, with Chief Justice Isa even preventing the mention of specific names during the proceedings.

The court acknowledged the complexity of the legal question arising from the amendments but asserted its role in interpreting the constitutionality of such changes.

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