The Supreme Court’s landmark decision, declaring that disqualification handed down under Article 62 (1)(f) of the Constitution is for life, was not unexpected, but still unnerves due to its impact, which will change the course of the country’s political history.

A deeper introspection of the judgment uncovers just how finely detailed and delicate the grounds and distinctions of the case actually are. The petitioner’s arguments were that the principle of proportionality ought to be applied to Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution. Moreover, Art. 62 (1) (f) involved disqualification for life, whereas in Art. 63(1)(h), more serious misconduct by a candidate for election, who has been sentenced for an offence involving moral turpitude, is subjected to an embargo on contesting election to Parliament for a fixed term rather than permanently.

The Court distinguished between the two articles, pointing out the from civil consequences of 62 (1) (f) as opposed to 63(1)(h) of the Constitution which deals with the cognizance of the same action by a criminal court followed by criminal punishment. The Court brought the distinction that Art. 62 of the Constitution provides the qualifications that must necessarily be possessed by a candidate for contesting election to Parliament, whereas Art. 63(1) of the Constitution enumerates the disqualifications; thus the bars for each are separate.

While some guidance on the confusing issue of Articles 62 and 63 was needed, this judgement still leaves a lot of issues. It feels incomplete that disqualification under Art. 62(1)(f) was not read in light of fundamental rights provisions of the constitution, which among other things, guarantee freedom of association. Moreover, this distinction between the Articles seems arbitrary, and is likely to cause further confusions.

It is a landmark decision; now a proper rule has been formed on Article 62, where before, the exact law on it was silent. While the less vague the Articles of 62 and 63 are, the better, this judgment confronts us with the question on who had the authority to set terms and conditions to an Article on the constitution. The court says it is only interpreting the law and not creating new law, but it is clear that there did not seem to be legislative intent to distinguish in such way between the Articles, and that the Court is taking some liberties with the restrictions of statutory interpretation.