ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Wednesday suspended the membership of PML-Q MNA Begum Shehnaz Sheikh but gave an opportunity to PPP MNA Ghulam Mujtaba Rai to tell as to why the court should not proceed against him for holding dual nationality.

The court ordered Interior Minister Rehman A Malik, who had said that there were many lawmakers who were dual nationals but have not been suspended by the court, to submit any such information in a sealed envelope at Registrar Office within seven days.

Mr Malik in his press talks on September 20, 21 had said that if asked by the Supreme Court or the government, “he could supply the names of the parliamentarians and members of provincial assemblies, who enjoy dual citizenship.”

The chief justice taking suo moto notice, on a news item that appeared in an English daily, had issued notices to Begum Shehnaz Sheikh for holding Australian citizenship and Ghulam Mujtaba Rai for possessing Canadian nationality to appear before the court and explain their position.

Begum Shehnaz neither appeared before the court herself nor any counsel represented her to rebut the allegation regarding holding dual nationality. The court observed that it seemed she has nothing to say in her defence, therefore did not deny the news item to-date.

The chief justice said the news item regarding Begum Shehnaz was widely published in the print and aired on electronic media and also the court notice was served to her through the secretary National Assembly. “The respected parliamentarian, representing the general public, was required to respect the court and should have appeared before the bench,” remarked the CJP.

A lawyer appeared on behalf of Mr. Rai’s and requested for some time to file reasonable reply of the notice. Umer Cheema, reporter of an English daily, appearing before the bench, stated that he standby his story. He said that he also tried to contact Begum Shehnaz for her version but she did not respond.

During the proceeding, the chief justice said it was very good that Rehman Malik has appeared assist the court. “We appreciate your statement.” The court confronted him with transcript of press talk and the clipping of news items published in Urdu papers. The CJP said they have video recording and the clippings about the press talk.

Rehman Malik said: “No list of parliamentarians holding dual nationality has been compiled officially,” adding he just responded to a journalist question on dual nationals. “The information was based on the hearsay and I can’t claim its veracity,” he said.

Justice Jawwad S Khawaja remarked that if it were the statement of an ordinary citizen then they would have not given much importance to it, but it was the statement of the federal minister of interior.

Rehman Malik said it is not right that everything, published in the newspapers, is true. The chief justice said: “The media in Pakistan is very very responsible and would not do anything which is against the interest of the country.” The court directing Mr. Malik to submit sealed enveloped at Registrar office adjourned the hearing till October 17, 2012.

SC suspends MNA Shehnaz Sheikh