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Pakistan Supreme Court rules Nawaz Sharif cannot lead party

The order overturns a change in the law by Nawaz Sharif’s ruling PML-N party that allowed the former premier to lead the party despite being legally banned from holding public office.

world Updated: Feb 21, 2018 21:35 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Pakistan Supreme Court,Nawaz Sharif,PML-N
Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif speaks during a news conference in Islamabad.(Reuters File Photo)

Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif is ineligible to head his own political party, six months after he was removed as premier.

The court’s verdict was in response to petitions that challenged the Elections Act 2017, which was bulldozed through the Upper and Lower Houses last year, paving the way for Sharif to become the head of the ruling PML-N party.

A three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, declared Article 17 of the law —allowing Sharif to resume duties as the head of the party — null and void. The court said that anyone who is unable to fulfil the requirements of Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution — which state that a member of the parliament should be “truthful” and “righteous” — cannot hold any public office, including the post of a party head.

“The Election Commission is directed to remove name of Nawaz Sharif as president of PML-N from all official records,” Nisar said.

The court also declared as illegal all acts by Sharif during his tenure as party chief, including the finalising of Senate tickets. A person who is disqualified under Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution is not eligible to nominate anyone to lower and upper houses of parliament, Nisar said. He said that since a party head is powerful and political parties control the government, it is mandatory for a party head to fulfil the requirements of Article 62 and 63.

“Parliamentarians must possess good character to run the affairs of Parliament,” he said.

The judgement also put the Senate election, scheduled for March 3, under a cloud. According to media reports, the PML-N candidates can contest election as independents, as the party’s electoral symbols cannot be allotted to them.

Sharif, 68, was disqualified by the apex court in the Panama Papers case last year under Article 62 of the Constitution for failing to declare a receivable salary as an asset. The passage of the Elections Act 2017 paved the way for Sharif to resume his position as PML-N chief, but the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Awami Muslim League, PPP and other parties petitioned the apex court against the law.

First Published: Feb 21, 2018 19:12 IST