ISLAMABAD - Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar on Wednesday questioned whether a parliamentarian could contest election after three months of his disqualification.

The chief justice was heading a five-member larger bench which heard petitions regarding disqualification period under Article 62 (1) (f) of the Constitution.

Azam Nazir Tarar advocate appeared on behalf of former premier Nawaz Sharif and sought three days for preparation.

Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan said the penalty in 62 (1) (f) is pursuant to the parliament’s decision. The chief justice held the omission by the parliament will not bar the court from interpretation. “We have to give the harmonious construction to articles 62 and 63 on behalf of the parliament,” he added.

Munir A Malik, who was appointed an amicus curea (friend of court), argued it is a settled principle that the provisions of the constitution be read as a whole. He said contesting election is a fundamental right under the constitution.

He stated that prior to 18th Amendment period of disqualification was not time-bound. “However, in the 18th Amendment the clear parliamentary intent was to militate against the wriggle of disqualification by making it time-bound,” he added.

Justice Umar Atta Bandial observed honesty is very important for parliamentarians as they are the trustees of the state. “We want the leaders of the nation to have high standard, so we need to set high standard of their qualification,” he asserted. He questioned if an MPA is convicted under Article 63 for concealing illegal money in his car or washing machine, he should come to the parliament after expiry of five years. “We need to consider the object of this legislation,” he added.

The chief justice said: “Dishonesty is cheating and cheating leads to fraud. The parliament should not be a place for cheaters as one day a parliamentarian can become the prime minister of the country,” he asserted.

Justice Bandial also questioned if a person commits a very serious crime like a high treason and after five years he comes back to the parliament what prevents a court from disqualifying him. He further said the candidates have lied on oath in the nomination papers, so the apex court has considered it a very a serious issue as it shatters the sacred trust.

Justice Azmat questioned whether a disqualified person becomes qualified automatically after the disqualification period expires. He also questioned whether the declaration for disqualification will stand when there is no quo warranto or conviction.

"When the court disqualifies a person under Article 62, it is a declaration by the court, not a conviction,” Justice Sheikh Azmat observed. “What will be the effect of Article 62 (1) (f) in such a case?” he said.

The chief justice observed if a person is not sagacious at a certain time, how he could be barred for life from not being sagacious. He asked what should be maximum and minimum bar or length of disqualification under Article 62(1) (f).

Sikandar Bashir Muhammad, appearing on behalf of former PTI general secretary Jehangir Tareen, contended the court needs to consider the gravity of the act for the disqualification under Article 62 (1) (f).

Justice Azmat said when there is a declaration, there is a consequence of it, and as long as the declaration exists the consequence remains. The bench asked the lawyer to guide the court about the maximum time under Article 62 (1) (f) in view of the outer-limits given in the clauses g, h and i of Article 63.

Tareen’s counsel argued there are constitutional provisions in which there is no perpetual bar. Justice Azmat said this issue should have been raised in the parliament and not before the Supreme Court. The chief justice put the question if there is a declaration for disqualification that a person is not honest or sagacious, whether that person needs another declaration from a court of law that he is sagacious.

Waseem Sajjad, representing ex-MPA Allah Dino, argued the articles 62 and 63 should be read together. The lawyer said he was part of the committee that had prepared the 18th Amendment, adding clause (f) of Article 62 could not be removed due to religious sentiments.

Tariq Mahmood advocate, representing Samina Khawar Hayat who was disqualified in a fake degree case in 2013, told the bench that the disqualification lasts for five years. He also said the court had disqualified Pervez Musharraf for life in 2013.

Waseem Sajjad, Sikandar Bashir and Tariq Mehmood concluded their arguments. The hearing was adjourned until today (Thursday).