ISLAMABAD  -  The top court will hear on October 8 an appeal against Sindh High Court (SHC) judgment, which had rejected a petition seeking disqualification of Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah on account of his dual nationality.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar will hear the appeal. The other members of the bench include Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Ijazul Ahsan.

The appeal filed by Roshan Ali Buriro, through advocates Hamid Khan and Ajmal Toor, says the high court gave the CM benefit on technical grounds.

It asked for setting aside SHC verdict as the court ignored the fact that Shah had lied about his Canadian citizenship – which provides a solid ground for his permanent disqualification to hold a public office.

The appeal stated that Murad Shah was presently holding the office of chief minister after being elected to Sindh Assembly from PS-73 Dadu-cum-Jamshoro constituency in 2008, when he had already acquired citizenship of foreign state. "Respondent No1 (Sindh CM) was thus admittedly disqualified from being a member of the provincial assembly under Article 63 (1) (c) of the Constitution," the appeal stated, citing Mehmood Akhtar Naqvi Case's judgment of top court.

It said that when affidavits were sought from members of the national and provincial assemblies, Shah resigned as Sindh Assembly member to avoid penal consequences laid down in the said judgment –which included disqualification, criminal proceedings for false swearing of declaration and return of monetary benefits obtained as a member of parliament or a provincial assembly.

Shah filed his nomination papers for by-election to PS-73 in February 2014 and therein once again, despite being disqualified under Article 63(1) (c) of the Constitution, misrepresented and filed a false declaration and swore an untrue affidavit regarding his qualifications and disqualifications.

"Respondent No1 being an influential person however managed to get his nomination papers accepted” for the said by-election against which this petitioner filed an Election Appeal, the petition said.

It added that the election appeal was disposed of on 30-1-2013 with a direction to Shah to swear an affidavit that he was not disqualified under Article 63(1) (c), which he did and thus on the basis of a false affidavit he once again got elected to the assembly - despite the fact that till that time he held citizenship of a foreign state.

Again in the General Elections 2013, Shah filed his nomination papers from the said constituency, the appeal further contended, arguing that objections were filed against his nomination papers. It added that Shah’s nomination papers were rejected by the Returning Officer on April 6, 2013. Under the said order, the RO made a declaration under Article 62(1) (f) against Shah.

The appeal to Supreme Court contended that the SHC’s judgment letting Shah off hook was against the Constitution, law and facts and it was liable to be set aside in the interest of justice.

The petitioner claimed that SHC judgment was premised on technical grounds rather than the ground of disqualification of Shah, who had concealed and made false declaration about his dual citizenship - which amounts to permanent disqualification.

He said the matter of holding /acquiring citizenship of a foreign state creates a positive obligation on every citizen to disclose it to the state officials as well as the electorate. The voters have a right to know who represents them and whether his loyalty to the state is unflinching. It is therefore submitted that the disclosure of dual nationality is an affirmative duty of every person who contest for elected offices or holds a public office, the plea said.

Once the fact of disqualification of Shah was brought on the record before the High Court, it was the duty of the court to declare him disqualified, it contended.

 

 

SYED SABEEHUL HUSSNAIN