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.
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 favouritism, 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.
The decision marks the removal of the last legal obstacle to Nawaz Sharif’s ambition to become Prime Minister for the fourth time. As the nation awaits the broader implications of this ruling, the Supreme Court’s decision underscores the delicate balance between upholding democratic rights and ensuring the integrity of public office.