ISLAMABAD: Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed of the Supreme Court on Friday held that disqualification under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution ran perpetual, but regretted that many of the petitioners who expressed concern over harshness of the provision had been members of parliament at some point of time and might have passed amendments which now stood in their way.
“Some of the counsel also voiced that perhaps the effect of Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution qua the period of lack of qualification may be disproportionate and a little harsh,” Justice Saeed observed in his additional six-page note. Such arguments, the judge went on to say, were perhaps more suitable to the floor of parliament than at the bar before this court.
The note came in addition to the main unanimous judgement authored and announced by Justice Umar Ata Bandial — a member of the five-judge SC bench headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar — which held that disqualification under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution was for life.
Justice Saeed explained that the court could only interpret the Constitution and not amend or change it, not even read into it.
“This aspect of the matter is rather ironic as several persons before us were or had been the members of parliament at some point of time and may have passed the amendments, which now stand in their way,” he observed, adding that no reason was advanced by any counsel to persuade him to take a different view.
Justice Saeed regretted that none of the counsel who appeared before “us confronted the elephant in the room i.e. the obvious interpretation of Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution. None of the counsel refuted the obvious interpretation but only sidestepped the issue”.
The judge, however, appreciated Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf’s acknowledgment that once a declaration had been made by a court of law that a person was not sagacious or righteous or non-profligate or honest and ameen, such a person was not qualified to be a member of parliament.
“This lack of qualification is the effect of the declaration that disqualification under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution is for life. As long as the declaration by the court holds the field, the person respect of whom such declaration had been made will continue to be deprived of the qualifications to be the parliamentarian,” he said.
Justice Saeed observed that the stand taken by the attorney general was not only fair but also in accordance with the obvious and self-evidence intent of Article 62(1)(f). Incidentally, he said, the Supreme Court on more than one occasion had already held that lack of qualification suffered under Article 62(1)(f) was in perpetuity.
Justice Saeed said though the expressions denoting the attributes for being qualified to be a member of parliament as spelt forth in Article 62(1)(f) left no manner of doubt that the provision was rooted in and inspired by Islamic values, the same must be interpreted with great care, caution and respect.
Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2018