Lahore  - A person disqualified for life by the apex court is not permitted to attend an official meeting and the act falls in contempt of court, say country’s leading legal experts.

Constitution, law, politics, ethics and morality do not permit Tareen to attend official meetings, said the experts, who are also office-bearers of top bars of the country, in exclusive talks with The Nation.

They said it was an open secret that Tareen had been involved in all lobbying for installing PTI government and illegally and unlawfully attending various meetings held at the Prime Minister Secretariat.

They were of the view that a disqualified person has no such legal and constitutional mandate even to have sitting in such meetings for being dishonest and untruthful as termed by the apex court.

They said the media widely reported that a disqualified person held a key meeting of top government officials at the secretariat of prime minister raising many questions pertaining to court orders’ sanctity.

Expressing their concerns, Pakistan Bar Council member Abid Saqi, Punjab Bar Council’s Executive Committee Chairman Iftikhar Ibrahim Qureshi, Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) President and PBC member Hafeezur Rehman Chaudhry and former LHCBA president Noor Samand expressed their viewpoint regarding participation of PTI’s Jehangir Tareen in the recently held cabinet meeting in presence of Prime Minister Imran Khan. They said the act fell in contempt of court as the Supreme Court had declared Mr Tareen disqualified for life for not being Sadiq and Ameen.

Legal experts say Constitution, law, politics, ethics and morality do not permit anyone to do that

PBC member Abid Saqi said ethics, morality, politics and constitution did not permit Tareen to attend the cabinet meeting unless he was a member of the parliament.

He was of the view that a writ petition could be filed in the high court which could direct the prime minister to stop him from attending the meeting.

He further said, “Court verdicts are self-executing and if, in violation of apex court’s order, prime minister and other cabinet members are allowing him to attend official meetings, they all are committing contempt of the court.”

The violation came amidst notices issued by the Lahore High Court to the prime minister, Mr Tareen and others in a writ petition filed against the disqualified PTI leader for convening and chairing a meeting of the Livestock Emergency Working Group on September 13, 2018.

Ex-LHCBA president Noor Samand said that he (Tareen) was not entitled to attend the official meeting as he had been disqualified by the Supreme Court.

He said as Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi himself highlighted the matter during a press conference, it would not be difficult to prove if the matter was taken to the court against Tareen.

In December 2017, a three-judge Supreme Court bench consisting of former chief justice Saqib Nisar, Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Justice Faisal Arab handed down its much-awaited judgement and disqualified Jahangir Tareen for being ‘dishonest’. However, the court had rejected PML-N leader Hanif Abbasi’s petition for Khan’s disqualification in Imran Khan, Jahangir Tareen disqualification case.

The bench had declared Tareen dishonest on one count among the multiple charges leveled against him under Article 62(1)(f) which sets the precondition for the head of government to be ‘sadiq and ameen’ (truthful and honest).

The judgement reads, “The respondent [Tareen] is disqualified in terms of Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution read with Section 99(1)(f) of ROPA for non-declaration of his property/asset i.e. ‘Hyde House’ in his nomination papers, and in making untrue statement before this court, that he has no beneficial interest in SVL [offshore company]; therefore, he should cease to hold the office as the member of the National Assembly with immediate effect.”

On the other side, Iftikhar Ibrahim said the act did not fall in contempt of court. However, he said, he should not attend official meetings on moral grounds, adding, disqualify means that if a person had been convicted he should refrain from indulging in political activities.

Hafeezur Rehman said Tareen being a disqualified person could not attend official meeting as former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was restrained from remaining president of PML-N though he was later named as Quaid of the political party.

The LHC president said that contempt proceedings may be initiated against Tareen and also against cabinet members including prime minister for inviting or allowing a disqualified person to attend the meeting.

In a writ petition, pending before the LHC against the PTI stalwart, the court had been asked to summon Tareen and seek an explanation under what authority he had been convening and chairing official meetings. In addition to that, differences between PTI stalwart Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Mr Tareen have come to surface and they are accusing each other of hurting the party.

Mr Qureshi, in his support, quotes latest ruling of the Election Commission of Pakistan in which the ECP had restrained Rai Hassan Nawaz from handling the party affairs for being disqualified by the apex court. However, in response to the foreign minister’s objection, Mr Tareen says that he attends such meetings on invitation of the prime minister and will not stop doing so.

After raising legal question arising out of the ECP’s ruling, Qureshi seems displeased with prime minister’s reaction who still gives important position to a disqualified but wealthy person.